Last week, the defending Class AA state champion Calhoun Yellow Jackets got some early reps at the Darlingon 7-on-7 Passing Camp which took place Thursday and Friday and head coach Hal Lamb said his team will be better for it.
“It was definitely good for us,” said Lamb. “We’re a spread team and like to throw the ball around so it really helps our offense. It probably helps our offense more than our defense because we don’t see a lot of teams that throw the football a lot in our region.
“But it did help us in some areas in the secondary on defense because we’ve got a lot of growing up to do back there. Overall, it was a good camp.”
The trip down to Rome for the Darlington Camp has become an annual thing for the Jackets as Lamb said it is a good fit for several reasons.
“Number 1, it’s close by, and we don’t have to spend the night,” said Lamb. “(Darlington) Coach (Tommy) Atha and his staff do a really good job.
“I think it helps offensively and defensively to get out there and throw the ball around a lot, but it’s still 7-on-7 and you have to treat it that way. When you put on the pads, that’s when you find the real players. But we got a lot of practice in, and it went well. We’ve still got a long way to go on both sides of the ball.”
Calhoun was among the 14 teams to attend the camp. Other squads there included the host Darlington, along with Walton (the AAAAA state runner-up last season), South Gwinnett, Mill Creek, Woodstock, Lambert, East Paulding, Carrollton, Villa Rica, Wesleyan, Randolph, Decatur and Paulding County.
Lamb said seeing the competition level of some of the bigger schools will help in the long run.
“We don’t see those type of schools in the regular season so it helps for our kids and coaches to see the bigger schools for what kind of players they are and the schemes they run,” said Lamb. “We saw every scheme imaginable in those two days. As a coaching staff it really helped us in that area.”
The teams scrimmaged in several sessions on Thursday and Friday, and the camp culminated with a competition tournament on Friday night. Calhoun did not compete in the tournament, which was eventually won by South Gwinnett with a win over Carrollton in the finals.
Lamb said he definitely saw improvement from his team from the first game to the last.
“It took us a few games to get going, but once we did I feel like the kids grew up a little bit,” said Lamb. “I think we’ve got a long way to go on defense as well as offense, but we’re getting there.
“And it was good for us as a team. We took 40 kids so we got some team camaraderie also as we were there.”
One of the biggest beneficiaries of 7-on-7 camps is the quarterbacks. Calhoun returning starter Taylor Lamb, who recently committed to South Alabama, played well during the two-day camp according to Hal Lamb.
“Taylor is solid,” said Hal Lamb. “He’s as good as there is in my opinion. He’s got all the tools that you want as a quarterback. He was no different at camp.
“He’s pretty special, and we’re definitely glad he’s on our side.”
The Jackets will now get back into their summer workout program in preparation for fall camp, which starts in early August.
They open the regular season with tough non-region tests right at the top of the schedule. The season opener will be Aug. 31 when they host Ridgeland at Phil Reeve Stadium. They then head on the road to face Dalton the next Friday (Sept. 7) before returning home to host Carrollton on Sept. 14.
The Jackets are looking to win their 12th straight region title and fifth straight appearance in the Class AA State Championship Game at the Georgia Dome.