CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Hurricane football coach Jeremy Taylor reaped the benefits from last year's summer practice period.
"You might find a few surprises like we did,'' said the Redskins second-year coach. "We found a corner, Jeff Burnette. He hadn't played since he was a freshman.
"He ended up starting the year and he did a solid job. [Zach Fitzsimmons started at] free safety and made a ton of tackles around the line of scrimmage and some interceptions. We found some diamonds around the school to really help us out.''
That process begins again in earnest Monday as high school sports squads from around the state will be able to hold organized practices the last three weeks of June.
The West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission adopted the rule in 2003 that allows coaches to work out their players in any sport during this period except on Sundays.
Taylor and the Redskins are looking to take a different approach this year to the three-week opening, which ends June 29. The trendy option in recent years has been for football teams to attend 7-on-7 workouts, which emphasize the passing game.
"This year we're trying to do more practices,'' said the Hurricane coach who led the Redskins to the first round of the Class AAA playoffs last year. "We've got a lot more kids out this year than in years past. We're trying to get guys looks at different positions.
"Playing sandlot football, you really don't get to see what they can do. Last year we focused too much on the offense and not enough on the defense and we're going to try to divide that time this year. We're going to go through a couple of our mock practice routines that we're going to try to implement in the fall.''
At GW, the summer will take on a more vital role as Steve Edwards Jr. looks to replace six starters on offense and defense. The last several years the Patriots have relied on two-time Kennedy Award-winning tailback Ryan Switzer, who signed with North Carolina.
"We're going to have to use it a little more differently than we have in the past,'' said Edwards, who guided the Patriots to the AAA semifinals. "Before, we just hit the ground running. We'll have to slow it down a little bit.
"We're going to take a little bit more time and do a little more traditional practicing. We're going to need the time to get everybody familiar. We'll have to use a lot of evaluation time, which is going to be a little more important than it has been. It's going to be a time for learning. Kids are going to get a lot of chances and I hope the kids take the opportunity.''
South Charleston boys basketball coach Vic Herbert enjoys mixing practices with games at different venues. SC will travel to Cabell Midland, Marshall, Poca and George Washington during the three-week stretch.
"What we do is try to play a series of games, 10 to 15 games, during that time,'' said Herbert, whose Black Eagles advanced to the semis of the AAA state tournament in March. "You may go play three in one day. I like going around to different places.''
Herbert also doesn't mind his multi-sport athletes missing a few days with the basketball team.