On the sideline with Coach Jeffrey

Published 1:19pm Saturday, August 11, 2012

Is it Monday yet?

I’m ready for some football. October 2011 seems like a really long time ago and I’m eager to get back on the practice field for another season. I’m excited to enter my second year as head coach and I’d like to tell you about some changes that we worked on this off-season to implement this year.

Welcome back, sixth-grade tackle football. This year we will reintroduce tackle football to the sixth-grade program at Southwest Middle School.

Football for sixth grade will begin the first week of school with equipment handout after school. The first practice is slated for Sept. 10. Our emphasis will be to teach the fundamentals of football: blocking, tackling properly and overall football skills by position. Sixth grade will also play plenty of intramural games throughout the season.

I’m excited to have four teachers from Southwest Middle School as our coaches at this level. I know they will be great teachers of the game.

Another change for our program is having eighth-graders practice and play games at the Hammer Field complex. With the eighth grade addition to the high school, it only makes sense to have them play and practice at Hammer. The locker rooms and equipment are ready, new uniforms are ordered, practice fields have been cut and watered, and we are ready for them. I really think they will benefit as they observe the older players and watch their work habits.

Practice for seventh-and eighth grade teams will begin Aug. 27 at 3 p.m.

Our seventh grade will report to Southwest Middle School field, and our eighth grade will report to the Hammer Field complex. Our coaches are excited to build our younger programs. We are looking at expanding our game schedule for these two grade levels as well so we get plenty of playing time.

At the high school levels in grades nine through 12, we have had some coaching changes.

If you notice a big guy at practice this year, it’s former Albert Lea offensive lineman R.J. Polley. R.J. graduated from Albert Lea in 2007 and went on to play Division I football at the University of South Dakota. R.J. played right tackle for the Coyotes and started in his final two years. He will be working with all of our offensive linemen in our program and will call offense for the ninth-grade team. He’s a great addition to our staff and will bring a wealth of knowledge to our program.

We also need to welcome T.J. Wentzel to our program. T.J. comes to us via the Minnesota Gophers. T.J. played defensive back for coach Glen Mason as well as coach Tim Brewster. In high school in Iowa, T.J. was an all-state quarterback. T.J. is excited to help our program, and I’m excited to have him in Albert Lea. He’s truly a football junkie as he’s already spent time watching film to get himself familiarized with our opponents.

As I stated earlier, I’m excited. Football is the ultimate team game. It takes all 11 players on the field working together. Although there are individual positions, we must function together. Our players will hear this word often: synergy. The definition of synergy is, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. When synergy is created there is nothing better to be a part of.

It’s not too late to sign up for football, no matter what age you are. If you want to be a part of something special, if you want to help create that synergy, you can be a part of Tiger football. Bring a friend who is not signed up to the first practice.

Stop in to the athletic office at high school to get signed up. You can also download the paperwork at tigeractivity.org.

Fees range from $135, $60 for reduced, and $15 for free meal rate at the high school level. Middle school fees are $65, $35 for reduced, and $15 for free meal rate. If you have any questions about the fees or paperwork, contact the athletic office at Albert Lea High School.

In closing, I want to thank the community for their continued support of not only A.L. football but all Tiger athletics. Our student-athletes compete to the best of their abilities, and I know they appreciate you attending their events.

Our first home football game is scheduled for Aug. 30 against Waseca. I hope to see a big crowd.

Oh, one more thing, players in grades nine through 12, I’ll see you at 8 a.m. in the ALHS auditorium on Monday. Are you ready for some football?

Max Jeffrey is the head football coach at Albert Lea High School. A column from an area coach will appear in the Tribune each week.