By Rob Kiser
Piqua football coach Bill Nees knows this is the time fans start to get excited about the high school football season.
“Usually around the MLB All-Star game people seem to take an interest and start talking about football,” Nees said.
Some even attend the 7-on-7s held this month, before practice gets underway Aug. 3.
And it is not that Nees doesn’t think this is an important time of the pre-season — he just maybe looking for different things than the typical fan.
“There are both good and bad with the 7-on-7s,” Nees said. “It is good for the kids to have something to do (with football) and it helps build chemistry (between the quarterbacks and receivers),” Nees said. “At the same time, it is not the same as a game. You don’t have a pass rush, things just take longer.”
Piqua has already had two 7-on-7s, including one at Bowling Green.
They will have two more, one at Northmont at 9 a.m. Saturday and one Wednesday at Tecumseh at 6 p.m..
Practice will begin Aug. 3, with three home scrimmages to follow.
Piqua will host Tecumseh at 10 a.m., Aug. 11; Xenia at 7 p.m., Aug. 14; and Springboro at 7 p.m., Aug. 21.
“We are really happy with where our conditioning is right now,” Nees said.
But, Nees has had one big focus in the off-season.
“The thing we are working on is having good team chemistry,” Nees said. “You don’t notice it so much when you win, but when you lose — that is where you notice it. Taking a trip up to Bowling Green (for a 7-on-7). That is something that really helps with building chemistry.”
As you might expect, Piqua’s drop from D-II to D-III as drawn little reaction from the players.
“Not at all,” Nees said. “You still have to beat the same teams. You just have to win games, regardless of the division. It used to be wins over D-I teams were huge. But now, with them using the average, it is just important to win games.”
In fact, last year it took more points in D-III, Region 10 than D-II, Region 6 to get in the playoffs.
“It varies from year-to-year,” Nees said. “Four of the teams from our region in D-II that made the playoffs wouldn’t have made the playoffs in D-III. One year, we were 8-2 in D-I and were first in our region and when we were 8-2 in D-II (the state championship season), we were seventh in our season. You never know.”
This is a busy week for the coaching staff, with Piqua holding camps for both grades 1-6 and 7-8.
“The high school kids get to work with their position coaches every day and get some up-close instruction,” Nees said. “The camp gives us a chance to get to know the kids in grades 7 and 8. And then you have a camp with the younger kids. With all that, we will have contact with approximately 200 Piqua football players each day this week.”
And in the end — Nees hopes it will provide the chemistry necessary for the upcoming season.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.