Combines give players opportunities to shine

Two of the Friday activities at McEachern for the Elite Junior Classic weekend were the middle school and high school combines. They allowed up-and-coming football players the chance to test their measureables against each other and also get expert instruction from top high school coaches in the state.

One of the those coaches was Rocky Hidalgo of Walton, who believes the combines give the players a chance to both impress coaches and compete with fellow players.

“I think it gives them a chance to understand where they are in relation to their peers,” said Hidalgo. “It helps a kid who is out there and comes to something like this see where are and what deficiencies they need to work on, how they compare to guys they compete against and it’ll encourage them to work hard.”

More than 150 kids, both high school and middle school participated in the combine today in McEachern’s gym. Tests and evaluations included the powerball toss, broad jump, vertical jump, 40-yard dash and shuttle run.

Highly-successful high school coaches such as Hidalgo, Paul Standard of St. Pius X, McEachern’s Kyle Hockman, North Gwinnett’s Bob Sphire, Ware County’s Ed Dudley, Valdosta’s Rance Gillespie, Mark Crews of Brookwood, Jeff Carlberg of Centennial, Tripp Allen (Walton’s OC), Corey Jarvis of Mays, Ed Pilcher (Berrien’s head coach and one of the state’s active leaders with 244 wins), Franklin Stephens of Lamar County, Kevin Kinsler of Northside-Warner Robins, former Brookwood head coach Dave Hunter, and Christian Hunnicutt, the Lowndes OC.

Despite the all-star cast of coaches, Hildalgo didn’t believe the players were impressed.

“Honestly, most of these guys don’t know who we are,” said Hidalgo, who has been with the Raiders for five seasons. “They’d probably get more from it if we were on the field coaching them doing something like this, but overall, it gives them a chance to see where they are in relation to their peers. It should motivate them to work harder to want to compete with them.”

The combines began at 11 a.m. and lasted until 2. Several players, coaches and a college scout or two were in attendance.









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