LAKEVIEW — With just a few weeks before the start of the high school football season, the Lakeview Wildcats continue summer preparation with new head coach Sean Rinehart.
Rinehart, a Michigan native, has spent the past several years in North Carolina coaching the same sport. Now, for the first time he is in charge of his own program and loving every minute of it.
“It’s exciting. I’ve worked with three different head coaches. At my first program, three coaches are now coaching in college and I still talk to them nearly every day to get advice,” Rinehart said. “I’m taking all those things from different coaches and I’m trying to build the best program I can.
“I thought I would be more nervous, but I’m really excited. Especially, when you have a group of guys in a community like Lakeview that have embraced me and are excited as much as I am,” he added.
It’s been a busy summer of preparation for the Wildcats, more so than past years.
“It’s going really well. These kids haven’t really experienced a summer workout program like the one I’m trying to install in Lakeview,” Rinehart said. “They are really buying into it and I’m getting a lot of guys showing up. We just finished up a successful camp and they are really getting excited about things.”
Like most football programs it all starts in the weight room.
“We’ve been working on strength and flexibility,” Rinehart said. “One of the things I’ve learned and developed in North Carolina was speed and injury prevention. We are implementing those things and our strength program.”
The camp, concluded last week, focused on installing the Wildcats new offense and defense.
“I spent a lot of time going over our offense, defense and even our special teams. We put an emphasis on all those things and made sure the kids know this is a process,” Rinehart said. “They came along really well. I’ve never seen a group of kids grasp an offense and defense this fast. They really understand it and have put in the time.”
Lakview is transitioning offensively from the Wing-T to a Split-back Veer option offense. Two players, two friends — senior Shawn Lindsey and junior Nate Shurlow — are competing this summer for the quarterback position.
Rinehart said both are committed to helping the team win, no matter what. Lindsey is the incumbent, while Shurlow played soccer a year ago, but like Lindsey is very athletic. Both star on the basketball court, as well.
“They are both excited about the opportunity and the best part is they don’t care (who starts), they just want to play and help the team as best they can,” Rinehart said. “Whichever one gets the job, they don’t care. They are just excited about helping the team. They are really good friends on and off the court.”
The Wildcats will compete in their final 7-on-7 passing camp today (6 p.m.) at Greenville High School. The Wildcats have competed in a few this summer including one at Ford Field, the home of the Detroit Lions.
Despite being a running program, Rinehart said his team can learn from passing camps.
“I’m looking for them to compete. We understand that the split-back option is a running offense,” Rinehart said. “I want them to compete and learn that mistakes will be made, but they have to rise above that and not be afraid to make mistakes. I’m looking for them to grow and improve and we have done that.”
Lakeview will begin final preparation for the upcoming season with the official start of the fall practice schedule on Aug. 12. The Wildcats, though will begin just a little bit earlier than most teams.
Rinehart is holding a Midnight Madness for the first practice of the season.
“It’s something I did last year in North Carolina. I just saw how, not only the kids, but the community really bought in,” Rinehart said. “You get a lot of parents that want to come out at midnight and watch their sons play and practice. The kids love it because they get to stay out late.”
The team will practice from midnight until 2 a.m. They will have breakfast, a short break and finish with a hour or two walk-through just as the sun begins to rise.
“By the time other teams are waking up we already have two practices in on the season,” Rinehart said.
Lakeview went 5-4 a year ago. The Wildcats have not made the playoffs since 2006 when they finished 6-4.
Lakeview will open the season on Aug. 29 at home against Morley Stanwood (3-6 in 2012).