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Cougar Combine sees big success

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By Chris Cannon

ccannon@lafollettepress.com

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Campbell County went pro style on Monday and Tuesday, as the football team participated in its own combine.

Mimicking the NFL style workouts, crowds gathered to see the hard work the Cougars have been putting in.

“I think it’s cool,” head coach Justin Price said. “In our society, everything’s so transparent. When you can come out and demonstrate what you’ve been working for, it’s always nice to see our kids get excited to showcase what they’ve been doing. All this stuff behind closed doors, it makes it kind of tough for them to come everyday and do this grind.”

The grind has obviously paid off.

Christian Monday and Nick Bailey ran the show, topping four of the six events the Cougars went through.

Two of those categories were in weight lifting.

“That’s one of our goals coming in, to improve in all areas, but also in the weight room,” Price said. “When you watch a football team, the more physically tough you are, the better you can be. Every year, I think you set that tone with your seniors.”

Monday led the pack, as he drew a crowd on Monday night.

As numerous people stood around him, the defensive lineman bench-pressed 385.

“It was definitely exciting having all those people around you and having those people support you,” Monday said. “It was something to remember.”

Monday almost pressed 400, but the attempt just fell short.

While coach Matt Price said he would have the weight by spring, Monday says he has other plans.

“I think I’m gonna have it by Friday,” he said with a smile. “My shoulder’s been messing with me. I’m serious.”

Monday also topped the charts on power cling, as he managed 295 pounds.

Bailey, the senior linebacker, said it’s good to see the guy in front of him on defense making those big strides.

“He’s a beast,” Bailey said. “I’m glad he’s on our team. Bench-pressing those linemen around makes my job easier at linebacker. It’s good.”

However, Bailey wasn’t a lightweight.

He took over the show on Tuesday, as he took to weightlifting squats.

The senior linebacker squatted a weight of 520, before he opted to stop.

“The most I’ve every got was 465, and that was last time,” Bailey said. “That’s a pretty big jump. I’m happy with the gain I’ve got.

“We’re getting so much stronger as a team this year. Last year, we weren’t as strong, physically. Seeing everybody improve as we have, it just makes you feel even more ready for the season this year.”

Bailey also scored the highest in the vertical jump, posing a 30-inch vertical.

Junior Joseph Elkins ran a 4.26 in the shuttle run, while Tyler Loveday managed a broad jump of 8-foot-8.

“Coach (Matt) Price, he’s always going around saying, ‘Big people beat up little people,’” Price said. “I think there’s some truth to that. When you can move somebody from point A to point B, against their will, I think you automatically get that edge, especially mentally, on them.”

For quarterback Ethan Jeffers, it’s a chance to show off his talents though.

Although he joked he wasn’t known for his speed, he posted some good numbers.

“When people get up here, when I see people up here, I say, ‘I’m going to go for 300 on squat,’” he said. “If I see somebody that’s watching me, I try to raise the bar. It gives me more motivation. It excites us to see people come and see what we can do.”

Price says that’s exactly what he’s looking for.

While the players have bought into the program, it’s time to look at the next phase.

Now, the community becomes a big part of the Campbell County program.

“When you’re trying to build a program, you start seeing the progress in so many areas,” the head coach said. “I think last night was another step that we’re continuing to take. All of our players have bought in, but now we’re getting the community and their parents involved. We want them to not only see what their kids are doing, but we want them to see our facilities.”

This season, the Campbell County team has raised the bar in many different areas.

Incorporated this season already, the Cougars have managed a middle school signing day and a Cougar Combine.

Add that into the methods inside the weight room, and things are looking up.

“I think we’re raising the bar with Campbell County every year,” Monday said. “We’re raising the bar every year, and we’re just going to try to get maximum accomplishments.”

To Price, that’s just what he’s looking for, and it takes the involvement of parents and the community.

“We want to have an open door policy,” he said. “They spend a lot of time, not necessarily up here working out with us, but the parents invest as much as these kids do in certain ways. It’s kind of our tip of the hat to those guys as well.”