Colonial Hills is ready to put last season in the rearview mirror has practice has started for this season.
The Rams are entering their third-year in the Georgia Independent Christian Athletic Association eight-man football division and has played eight-man football, with some seasons of 11-man football sprinkled in, over the last 10 years. The school, which was founded in 1959, but moved to Lithia Springs in the mid 1990’s, went 6-5 last season.
“We had a lot of injuries to my key players last year,” Bruce said. “It wasn’t easy, we played some good competition. We’ve lost [two or three] games last year we probably should have won. [Two or three] games that we got beat in we should have got beat in because we played much better competition and much better opponents.”
Rams junior linebacker/fullback J.C. Shelton agreed.
“We definitely had our fair share of injuries, but we worked really hard this offseason to get stronger, so we won’t have those this year,” Shelton said. “We are definitely are looking to get back at some of the teams we had a lot of injuries for and ended up losing those games.”
Bruce said his team is hopeful for a better season.
“That’s (2014) behind us,” he said. “We’re looking forward to this year. Expectations are high. I have a very big offensive line. My offensive line is 260, 250, and 240 [pounds]. They competed very well against Lithia Springs when they competed against them. Our defensive line is pretty big and strong. We’ve been in the weight room since March 28, so we’re physically strong.
“[Assistant coach] Greg Nix and our strength and conditioning coach Jonathan Lamar really made them into strong and fit offensive and defensive linemen. They were just average-sized kids when they came to us, now they’ve gotten in the weight room and [grown].”
The Rams had two seven-on-seven practices with Lithia Springs over the summer and Bruce likes how his players measured up, still he plans to emphasize speed in, and not size, in his team’s preparation for the upcoming season.
“We always like to play with speed,” Bruce said. “Speed is by far our emphasis on the field. We’re going to go out there and work on speed; we’re going to work on agility, and controlling our bodies while playing with speed. “
Colonial Hills began contact drills this week as Bruce installed the offense mid-week. His players have a couple of other points of emphasis in fall practices.
“Just overall working together, I guess you can say teamwork,” Shelton said. “We did good last year. We just had little mistakes here and there we’re trying to clean up those mistakes, like keeping the ball in our hands instead of our opponents. Keeping turnovers down, but also taking the ball from the other team.”
A few of Colonial Hills’ players are home-schooled or attend the very small nearby Atlanta West Christian Academy. In addition to the seven-on-seven contests against GHSA schools, Bruce has taken the Rams to practices at Georgia Tech, the Atlanta Falcons and Hoover High School in Alabama.
Also, some Rams like Shelton, quarterback Kevin Curence, receiver David Lee, and lineman Drake Bragg has garnered interest from colleges.
“I’m very aggressive with the schools,” Bruce said. “I send out their Hudl links and I send out information about these young men so that they [can] get looked at. Otherwise, they never would.”