An Ellwood Christian running back dashes through an opening against A. L. Johnson in a game last season at Ellwood Christian High School.   With a 5-5 record, the Eagles made the playoffs last season in their first season in AHSAA.  The team will play 7-on-7 games at Southside High School on June 23.--File Photo
An Ellwood Christian running back dashes through an opening against A. L. Johnson in a game last season at Ellwood Christian High School. With a 5-5 record, the Eagles made the playoffs last season in their first season in AHSAA. The team will play 7-on-7 games at Southside High School on June 23.-- File Photo

Ellwood is working hard to make playoffs again

Published 5:38pm Thursday, July 11, 2013

By Daniel Evans
The Selma Times-Journal

Last season Ellwood Christian reached the playoffs in their first season in AHSAA with a 5-5 record that was a big step in the right direction following 2011’s winless campaign.

This offseason the plan is to build on that success while cleaning up some of the mistakes that cost the Eagles football games last year. Summer workouts are in full swing this summer with players lifting weights and focused on conditioning.

“Right now [workouts are] going pretty good. We are having more kids show up every day,” Ellwood Christian head coach Mike Stokes said. “You know the main thing is, we are getting our young kids in the weight room and getting them stronger. That’s a good positive for us.”

Stokes said in trying to get his players to show up every and work out, he is fighting the same fight every other high school coach is going through right now.

“We’ve been averaging 15-20 (players), which is a good number for 1A football,” Stokes said “You’ve got some — and I’m sure every school is going through it too — that just don’t show up. I’ve been pleased with it though. I really have.”

This offseason, Ellwood Christian was originally signed up to play in Southside High School’s 7-on-7 in June, but Stokes said it ended up being impossible to field a team with so many of his athletes playing baseball this offseason. But, now that baseball is winding down, the Eagles are prepared to play in Southside’s next 7-on-7 on July 23.

“We are a small 1A school and getting a chance to go out and go against 3A and 4A schools, it helps us to get better on down the road. That’s why I love to play Southside during the spring and other bigger schools,” Stokes said in a previous interview about preparing for Southside’s 7-on-7. “It just prepares you, because bigger schools, nine times out of ten, are going to have better athletes and more people, so it just prepares us for the season.”

The message from Stokes this offseason has been clear: Discipline.

“Right now, it is about discipline. I say this all the time,” Stokes said. “We had probably one of the most talented teams in 1A football last year, but we were just so undisciplined. On down the road, it hurt us. “

Stokes made it clear early in this offseason that he meant business.

He delayed the start of spring practice so that his players could focus on exams, but then a lot of his players did not hold up their end of the bargain to attend workouts. He suspended 15 players for the Eagles’ jamboree game against Southside.

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