WAKEFIELD — The boys of fall are training hard in the summer. The Wakefield High School football team has been in the weight room and on the football field competing in 7-on-7 games since school ended more than a month ago, preparing for the upcoming season.
After completing his first year as the Wolverines’ head varsity football coach, Rod Sink and his team are working hard to gain experience for this year’s team, which returns just a handful of players from last season’s 11-2 squad.
Now, with the loss of the core of their players, especially on the offensive side of the football, Wakefield is looking to fill those shoes and improve every day for an even better season.
“We’re an old team but a young one,” Sink said. “I’m seeing a lot of improvements in the players we have and they are gaining a lot of confidence along the way.”
“We don’t have the comfort blanket as we did last year, but we’re all working together,” Sink said, “and actually we are ahead of where we were last year at this time.”
The Wolverines have been working out three days a week, each day starting in the weight room to lift and then on the field for conditioning drills.
The players also spend some time running long distance and doing sprints.
“We have a 5K course here at the school that they run,” Sink said, “and they usually run once a week.”
Another benefit for Wakefield this summer has been their participation in 7-on-7 games. Most of the upperclassmen compete twice a week in the games at Middle Creek.
All this is to get ready for Friday nights this fall.
“We are definitely doing more 7-on-7 games,” Sink said. “We are able to put players in game-type situations and we want to get more game experience for our players. We like going out there and playing against different people and teams.”
“The 7-on-7 games are a good opportunity for us,” Sink added. “Facing different opponents is a benefit for us.”
The 7-on-7 competitions are also a good time to start building team chemistry, according to Sink.
“We are beginning to see progress,” Sink said. “The players are getting a good feel for each other and they are starting to become a team, and that’s the first step we want to take.”
In addition, the Wolverines attended a 7-on-7 camp at Elon University. Monday, they travel to Averette College in Danville, Va., to compete in a 7-on-7 tournament.
Thursday, July 18, Sink will take his team to Cleveland High for another 7-on-7 game.
“We want to compete against as many different teams as we can,” he said.
“Some of our players really start developing during these games, and they are developing in their roles earlier than last year because of the 7-on-7s,” Sink added. “We have competed against some great players and already I have seen a lot of maturity grow in our younger players.”
The Wolverines will also play in scrimmage games against Southeast Raleigh, Southern Durham and West Johnston.
Sink said he averages between 72-80 players from a combination of junior varsity and varsity members each workout.
Those numbers, he said, will jump a bit to accommodate the rising freshmen who just recently finished year-round middle school.
“We have a good mixture of upper and underclassmen,” Sink said.
Sink enters his second year as head coach after serving as the Wolverines’ offensive coordinator.
Wakefield is coming off an 11-2 campaign in 2012 that saw them lose in the second round of the NCHSAA playoffs to Garner.
“This year I know what needs to be done,” he said, “and I’m a little more prepared. Everyone is working hard.”