Clay Watson, who will return to the Wranglers’ football team as a senior in the fall, works out with the dead lift during one of the weight training sessions last week at Wickenburg High School.
By Kevin Cloe
High school football coaches across the country traditionally stress the importance of an off-season weight-lifting program to help their teams’ chances for a successful fall season.
In keeping with that proven preparation, Wickenburg High School’s football coaches have annually attempted to emphasize active participation in a summer weight training program that is extended through the regular season.
Gordon Deason, former coach for the Wranglers and community youth football programs, has stepped up to coordinate the school’s weight training program for more than half of the past 34 years.
“It’s been 18 years, but not consecutive, since 1985,” Deason noted last week while conducting one of the Wranglers’ summer weight-lifting sessions last week. “Coach (Carson) Miller (2014-2017) asked me to pick it up again.”
That was about six years ago, and now he’s preparing the Wranglers for Head Coach Mike Mitchell’s second year here.
“It’s been fun getting the team ready for games,” Deason said about the summer lifting and running program. “I know it sounds a little weird, but I enjoy this more than coaching. I get them ready and then turn them over to the coaches and say ‘Here you go’.”
The current strength program has been attracting about a dozen Wranglers at a time per session, with a different mix of players participating in the three-days-a-week schedule through the spring and summer. They lift and run for at least a couple early evening hours this month on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays — alternating about a half dozen weight-lifting disciplines for each session.
In the school’s weight room, stretched across the back wall, is a chart called Wrangler Power that lists the progress of the individual athletes and their cumulative weights compiled — ranging from 600 pounds to 1,000 pounds for each of the six lifting disciplines. Deason also has schedules pinned around the room for participants to pull down, read and follow in order to make each session most effective.
This month’s lifting sessions are sandwiched around a couple seven-on-seven passing tournaments this summer in Surprise, where about a dozen Wranglers compete against several other teams in the west valley — focusing on the development of a passing game as well as pass defense.
Coach Mitchell, who has been on vacation in Idaho this month, flew down to guide his Wranglers last week in their four brief contests and then immediately returned north. Assistant Head Coach Jerry Watson reported that the rebuilding Wranglers were surprisingly competitive — even against a couple much larger schools in the tournament.
They will return to Surprise at 6 p.m. today (Wednesday, June 12) at the new Ottawa University Field (near Greenway Road and Bullard Avenue) in attempt to improve upon last week’s performance before heading back home to complete their summer lifting program.
The Wranglers, who posted an 8-3 record last season and finished second to eventual 3A Conference state champion Northwest Christian in the 3A West Region, open their season on Friday, Aug. 30 at archival Parker in the 54th Annual Battle of the Firemen’s Axe trophy, which the Wranglers recaptured last year in a 35-0 victory that was halted at halftime due to a lightning storm.