This time of year, Clete Frazell can typically be found at the Chanute Community Sports Complex stadium organizing the different conditioning groups for the Chanute High School football team.
Assistant coaches Kurt Sizemore, Devon Crabtree, Luke Hall, Rusty Emiling and Bradley Campbell are helping with the process. And with every blaring instruction from each and every coach, 50 or so players are frenetically preparing for the upcoming 2019 season. Right now, they are working on conditioning at 3:30 pm Monday to Thursday, including position-specific workouts. Players run in 40-yard sprints to culminate workouts, and the number of back-to-back sprints increases with each passing day.
Sizemore, the offensive line coach, is responsible for preparing the line, and helping Frazell with blocking methods each week depending on how the defensive front changes in the upcoming football campaign.
Wide receivers coach Devon Crabtree oversees the pass catchers and blockers during workouts. His job is to prepare receivers with route concepts for the coverages Blue Comets will see each week. With blocking just as important as seeing, timing and squeezing the ball out of the air, Crabtree will be on receivers to ensure they fundamentally block when the season rolls around.
Running back coach Luke Hall is invariably preparing running backs for the defensive fronts they will see, as well as how things will unfold as the plays develop. All running back coaches need to coordinate with the offensive line, and that’s exactly what Hall is doing to prepare the runners to know where the holes to run through will be, as well as the cuts to make once a seam is open. Pass blocking, of course, is a focus for Hall, too.
Though Frazell is in charge of all aspects of workouts and practices, the first-year-Blue Comet head coach is managing the quarterbacks — in workouts and through the season — so the decision-makers know the playbook in and out, as well as what coverages they will see – overseeing the offense.
Defensive coordinator Rusty Emling, also the defensive line coach, will prepare the defense in all aspects. He is responsible for defensive conditioning, as well as preparing the defense for the different offensive coverages they will play on a week-to-week basis.
Bradley Campbell, the linebackers coach, is responsible for the heart of the defense, including technique and reads on the offense.
“I’m really blessed to have knowledgeable assistants that know what they need to be doing to get their kids ready,” Frazell said.
All of the coaches are staying the course, which has started with training camp through the 2019 summer and has proceeded into the current workouts. Right now is the time between training camp and the first day of football practice, which for the Blue Comets is Aug. 19.
Just like training and consistent practices leading up to the first game of the season — which is Sept. 6 versus Circle High School in Towanda — working out and conditioning ahead of the first official practice is just as important to the process of building a strong football foundation.
“Right now we are doing a lot of conditioning, and the summer kind of took care of a lot of learning for a lot of kids that showed up,” Frazell continued. “We had probably 40 regular kids this summer that learned our offense and defense during the summer. The ones that didn’t make it to the workout will kind of be in catch-up mode. As we start the season, it’s kind of hard for them to catch up because we have a game in three weeks; our focus kind of shifts for the first game instead of teaching everybody what they need to know. It’s really beneficial for them to show up during the summer.”
What’s also beneficial for the team, Frazell said, is for the team to take a prudent approach to the elements. After all, in less than two weeks, football athletes will be gearing up in full pads, and the weather won’t change drastically.
“Heat illness is always a concern when it’s hot early in the season and you starting putting pads on, so we are trying to get acclimated to the heat and get out and run around in it,” Frazell said. “We have had a good turnout for that so far.”
Getting acclimated to the heat is imperative, but staying healthy is priority.
Frazell is regulating high intensity interval workouts, but then players get frequent water breaks. Still, Frazell is getting players used to in-season training — an exemplary method — so once players attend the first practice in a few weeks, the Blue Comets can hit the ground running.
After players are used to the heat conditions and ready to put on their hard-hitting helmets, in that first week of practice athletes can expect regular team meetings that will cover team rules and the expectations for the year, which will start with improving upon a 4-5 record and a first-round playoff exit in 2018.
While Frazell has been coaching the Blue Comets as an assistant the last 14 years, being the head coach of a football program is different.
“It’s just managing more people and honestly, there is a lot of managerial work,” Frazell commented. “I’m trying to make sure we have everything we need. Equipment-wise, making sure we have everything we need technology-wise for the season — getting things renewed. And there is buying gear for coaches. There is a lot of more management type of stuff. So the football stuff hasn’t changed much, and I think all coaches like that; they like the football side of things.”