EDWARDSVILLE - Edwardsville, Marquette Catholic, Granite City and Civic Memorial were joined by Cahokia and Belleville Althoff Catholic in the opening of the three weeks of drills allowed by the Illinois High School Association as part of the summer training schedule before fall practice formally begins Aug. 5.

The drills were split into three sessions, lasting 30 minutes each. In round one, the Tigers went up against the Explorers, the Warriors took on the Eagles, and the Comanches met up with the Crusaders. In round two, it was Edwardsville against Cahokia, CM against Granite once again, and Marquette went up against Althoff. In the final round, Edwardsville met Althoff, Granite City came up against Cahokia, and Marquette played against CM.

And for each of the teams, it’s a chance to go up against another school and break the routine of the off-season summer practice sessions. And have fun doing it as well.

“Yeah, it’s a huge positive,” said Edwardsville head coach Matt Martin. “It breaks up the monotony of training in the summer, it’s fun for these kids. We’ve got a lot of kids out here under the lights playing, some of their parents and friends and family members were out here watching them. It starts to help build up the energy for the fall, doesn’t it? And defensively, you work on your alignment, your communication, and you break on the ball and make plays. Offensively, for the most part, we didn’t have a lot of mental errors. We had dropped balls and missed throws, but a pretty solid performance for the first time out. A lot of positives.”

The Tiger offense will have a big transition at quarterback this season, with Ryan Hampton taking over for Kendall Abdur-Rahman. Martin felt that Hampton played well throughout the evening.

“Yeah, Ryan Hampton, he did well,” Martin said. “He missed a couple of throws; he knows that. That’s why I like Ryan, he’ll be the first one to admit he should have made those throws. We’ll see where we are at the end of the summer.”

On the defensive side, Martin was pleased with his linebackers and secondary play.

“Our linebackers made some plays at times,” Martin said. “I think we had a couple of picks by linebackers, that’s good when you’re underneath coverages, seeing the ball thrown, finding routes and making breaks. They made plays. Ultimately, you’ve got to win your one-on-one battle, you’ve gotta make plays. You don’t have guys making plays, you’re probably not going to have a very good night.”

And on the first night of the passing drills, it does feel like the start of the season is getting closer, and it’s also a chance to get the practices on film to show players what they’re doing.

“Well, I think for us, especially when you watch film, you can tell somebody, and tell somebody,” Martin said, “and now, you can show them on film. You know, like ‘hey, your technique’s poor here, and if you don’t get better, you’re gonna get beat,’ so some of them got to experience that tonight,” Martin said with a laugh. “So hopefully, now you come back with a renewed energy, and willing to buy into some of the things that we teach. Not that we don’t have a lot of that, but still, like I tell our kids, when you get beat, it’s either because the guy’s better than you, or your technique’s poor. We’d much rather be a technique issue that somebody just better.”

Dan Brannan also contributed to this story

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