Editor's Note: Now that spring football practice has concluded, local football players are currently hard at work in the weight room and on the practice field preparing for the upcoming season. Each week during the summer, The Walton Tribune will take an in depth look at the state of each local football program heading into the 2021 season.
The weeks leading into the 2020 season were something of a blur for Loganville Christian Academy football coach Tim Wellmaker.
It was a perfect storm of events which would have been difficult for any coach to deal with. First, a new head coach was hired and promptly left town.
Wellmaker was then called on by school officials to step in. It was not an enviable situation but Wellmaker was willing to give it a go.
The Lions were also in the middle of a transition from the Georgia Independent Schools Association to the Georgia High School Association. Even under normal times that would have been an enormous weight on the shoulders of the LCA program.
And by the way, throw in a health pandemic which limited preseason work and you have a season that ended without a full schedule of games being played.
As the dust cleared, the Lions found themselves at 2-6 overall and 0-2 in Region 8-A Private.
“When you look at everything the players had to go through, winning two games was an accomplishment,” Wellmaker said.
The coach recalls his first team meeting at a parent’s house had seven players. It was going to be a tough road to drive.
“Relative to everything we dealt with last year, we are in a much better position now entering the summer,” Wellmaker said. “We are coming up on the one-year anniversary of that first meeting. I still remember the seven who were there were very nervous. We really didn’t know if we were going to have a varsity team or if we were going to play a junior varsity schedule.”
The LCA coaches have worked in the past year to build the numbers for the program.
“We are in a lot better position now but we still have a ways to go,” Wellmaker said. “We want to start the 2021 season with our numbers in the mid-30s at least.”
LCA finished spring with 28 players and gained experience with a spring scrimmage against Social Circle High School.
“From a school standpoint, I know our admissions department is accessing numerous applications,” the coach said. “I can’t help but think some of those new students will be interested in football.”
Spring practice saw Lion players working on basic offensive and defensive concepts. The team did lose some key players to graduation. Offensive/defensive lineman Oliver Buckner will be one of the team’s senior leaders in 2021 along with junior quarterback Josh Ruder.
“Offensively, we worked on our inside zone blocking concepts and our quick slant screens,” Wellmaker said. “Our kids are showing they know how to block or our scheme. Our running backs are developing an understanding of our offense and our receivers are getting their routes down.”
On defense, LCA will go from an odd front to an even front for the new season so there will plenty of teaching and learning.
The Lions have been working in the weight room and that will increase as the summer progresses. Players will attend various summer camps including ones at Apalachee High School and Bethlehem Christian Academy.
Wellmaker said school officials have been willing to give the football program what it needs to be successful.