Rams focused on self improvement during bye week

Published 10:53 am Saturday, September 23, 2023

The Valley Rams earned their first Friday night off since the season started nearly a month ago. The bye week has given the players a good chance to rest up and focus on things outside of the game of football. 

Head Coach Adam Hunter and the rest of the coaching staff had several things that they wanted to clean up this week. The overall goal for the team was to focus on self-improvement. 

“We wanted to work on us,” Hunter said. “Our penalties, how we are in the red zone offensively. Most of all, we wanted to get healthy. We were banged up a little bit after the Beauregard game.” 

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Although the team has been relatively healthy, especially compared to the previous seasons, several of Valley’s key players have been playing through injuries. Ian Crim-Davis played through an ankle injury last week, and Jay Harper has been battling an injury of his own. 

“We fought through some injuries last week, had some people out,” Hunter said. “We just wanted to get some people back healthy this week. We backed off a lot of contact stuff and kind of worked on the basic stuff.” 

Valley did not go on some sort of wilderness retreat or team bonding expedition, but that does not mean that the players did not bond during the week. One of the main focuses of the bye week was to let the players be kids and enjoy time with the people in their lives. 

“I let them get out of here,” Hunter said. “We did about an hour or hour and a half of practice on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. I let them get out and be kids a little bit.” 

“They work hard all summer long and then have been going seven weeks now non-stop. It was good to get them out of here a little bit earlier. Let them go home and do their work. Let them enjoy some time with their friends.” 

Every coach has different philosophies on how to use a bye week, but no coach will understate how important a mental break is for every player on the team. 

“I think it’s big,” Hunter said. “With our schedule, the way it was set up, our schedule is pretty tough throughout the season. Having it week four, almost halfway through the season, is a good time to get that break.” 

Valley has started 2-0 in region play this season, and that includes a win over a perennial playoff team in Beauregard. Now, just a few teams stand in the way of the Rams getting back to the playoffs and possibly being region champions. 

“I think our kids have responded well,” Hunter said. “I think anytime you can beat a team like Beauregard, that had the success that they had last year, you’re going to help yourself out down the road. I think our kids have walked a little bit better, carried themselves a little bit better and worked a little bit harder. I think they know what’s ahead of them.” 

Usually, a coach does not look ahead, but Hunter has been able to do that this week with no opponent in front of his team. 

Hunter knows that one of the toughest foes in the region is Clay Central. Central is currently ranked as the no. 3 team in 5A, and Hunter knows that the Volunteers are the team to beat. 

“Clay Central is going to be the tough one,” Hunter said. “We’ve got to carry ourselves well, and we’ve got to be confident. Go out on that field, and know that we’ve got a chance to win those games.” 

It has been a great start to the season for Valley, but there are still several improvements that need to be made. 

The coaching staff is focusing on limiting some of the penalties that have hurt the Rams, special teams and limiting turnovers on offense.