First Presbyterian Christian Academy head coach Jamie Sharp Jr. knows the feeling of looking down the sideline and not seeing many players, and the 2014 season will not be any different.
“One of the biggest things this summer that has helped us is that we have had more players active this summer in workouts, getting ready for the season,” he said.
Sharp speculated that the Highlanders would end up having around 13 to 15 players.
But just like the other area high-school teams, Sharp’s team has been working through drills in preparation for the season.
“Right now, one of our biggest goals is to become a mentally stronger team and tougher team physically,” he said.
Regardless of the small number of players, Sharp expects his team to be ready to play every down, every game.
“We have to be in the best physical shape possible, because with low numbers, this really is ironman football,” he said. “A safety has to be more than just someone to cover receivers. They also have to be someone that can tackle, which is probably more important than covering the receiver.”
FPCA quarterback Josh Armour made the biggest gains in the weight room over the summer. He and Bolden Crane have begun emerging as team leaders according to Sharp. Newcomer Jordan Gilyard has been a pleasant surprise.
The Highlanders gained a strong receiver when former Bradwell Tiger Michael Burnett transferred to FPCA last school year during basketball season.
“Burnett can certainly help us as a receiver. As he continues to work hard at that position and in the secondary, he will certainly get opportunities to catch balls,” Sharp said.
Sharp and his father, James Sharp Sr., installed the basics of the quick-hitting spread offense during a recent afternoon.
“You have to read the safety’s eyes when you are getting ready to throw your route,” Sharp Sr. said. “If the safety jumps the deep route, get the ball underneath to the inside receiver running a drag or slant route.”
The Highlanders’ spread offense has allowed them to use their athleticism in the past, but graduation also hit them hard.
“We had a lot of players graduate, so we have got some players that are going to have to step up this year. But that is the nature of the beast,” Sharp Jr. said.
FPCA does not scrimmage anyone this year, so it will open play Friday, Aug. 22, on the road against Bulloch Academy.