The New Brockton Gamecocks traveled to Elba on June 26 to compete in the Second Annual Elba 7-on-7 Tournament alongside a number of other area teams.

Joining New Brockton and Elba at the tournament were Samson, Luverne, Highland Home, Dale County and TR Miller.

The Gamecocks went 2-2 with losses against Luverne and Dale County to start off the day but finished strong with wins over both Samson and hometown Elba.

“I didn’t think we started out well,” New Brockton coach Zack Holmes said. “We were slow to start which is different from the last (7-on-7) we did.

“We didn’t start real well but I was glad to see the resiliency we had after that first game. They came back and started performing better and finished out strong.”

The Gamecocks also had to battle against the brutal summer heat along with the teams on the other side of the field.

“Our conditioning was good,” Holmes emphasized. “It was hot and our kids really didn’t struggle with that which was good to see. I think we’re where we need to be at this point in the summer as we transition from 7-on-7s into OTAs.”

Incoming senior Russell Weeks opened some eyes with a number of highlight reel grabs that included a Randy Moss-like leaping touchdown grab over two Elba defenders in one game and a tightrope toe-tapping grab against Samson earlier in the day. While Weeks’ pass-catching ability is sure to get the opposition’s attention heading into the 2019 season, it’s the other aspects of his game that stand out to his coaches just as much.

“The thing about Russell – when you watch his tape – is he gets after it blocking and plays football in sort of an old school manner,” Holmes said. “He gets down and dirty and isn’t afraid to get in the trenches and block.

“Seeing him out there track the ball and make those catches (in the 7-on-7) was pretty incredible, though. He is a special football player and I’m glad he’s on our team.”

Weeks will also be spending time on defense in 2019 as an outside linebacker, and he isn’t the only New Brockton playmaker that will be splitting time on defense. Elite 11 receiver Colton Marsh will be playing in the defensive backfield this year, as well.

“He likes playing safety and we’re rolling him down into coverage, too,” Holmes said. “The guys have really taken to playing more zone coverage than they have in the past. Colton is doing a really good job there.”

Getting the ball to Weeks and Marsh this season will be sophomore Kaden Cupp who is fresh off of his record-breaking freshman season.

“It’s crazy to think about him just turning 15 (years old),” Holmes said of his quarterback. “I have to remind myself all the time that yeah, he has a season under his belt, but he’s still very young and still developing.

“The coolest thing about him this summer is watching him mature and deal with adversity when something bad happens. He deals with it the way you want the quarterback of your team to deal with it and he’s keeping a good attitude.”

Cupp is also one of several Gamecocks that has been hitting the weight room especially hard in the offseason with new strength and conditioning coach Tyler Stump, and the work is paying off.

“Tyler has done an incredible job in the weight room with our guys,” Holmes said. “They’re putting on mass even in the summer which is hard to do. We have them on a nutrition plan and all of them have gained good muscle weight, which will carry over into injury prevention and the bigger and stronger you are, the more you can do.”

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