Two days into his second spring practice at the helm of Riverside Academy’s football program, Kevin Dizer likes what he sees from the Rebels.
“I am impressed with the organization so far,” Dizer said. “For us to have so many new kids in the program, we’ve got people in the right place. We’ve got coaches in the right place. Everybody is flying around and I couldn’t be more impressed with the organization and kids emerging as leaders. It’s a great sign of improvement for us.”
Part of that improvement comes from familiarity, according to Dizer.
“A year ago when we came out in the spring, we only had 10-15 players that I knew about,” said Dizer, who was elevated to the top spot a year ago after spending the three previous years as a Rebels assistant coach. “The rest of the kids were new that we just pulled out of the school building. Last year I just wanted to go really hard in spring to see who would actually hit somebody. Now, I know the kids, I know who’s in the program, so there is a huge concentration on learning and knowing what to do on both sides of the football.”
Tuesday was the first day for the Rebels to be in full gear.
“The norm for us around here is to go full pads and I will control the tempo, whether we will be going to the ground. I like to get the routine of kids in full pads and we’ll pull back when I think the kids need the rest,” said Dizer.
Along with a sense of familiarity, Dizer said he is trying to create a positive culture with the Rebels coming off of a losing season.
“I felt after Year One, there was a lot of negativity, whether it be in the locker room, whether it be in the community, whether it be about me, whatever it may be, I need guys in the locker room full of positive energy. If everybody is positive and everybody is on the same page, there’s only one way we can go,” the Riverside coach said.
The Rebels will conduct drills the remainder of the week including a Friday scrimmage. Spring practice will continue the follow week, concluding with an intra-squad scrimmage slated for 4 p.m. May 17.
“I would love to play a Spring Game,” said Dizer. “The issue with that is you just want to be able to control it. You want to be able to control the physicality. If enough’s enough, you want to be able to shut it down. When you are going against someone else, you can’t really do that. There are pros and cons to everything but I just think it’s best for our program with the numbers we have.”
The numbers include approximately 45 players out for spring practice for a Riverside program that will be dropping down to Class 1A in the fall.
“It’s odd for me. Everywhere I’ve been, it’s always been big-time football communities. We never had to ask a boy to play football where I’m from and where I’ve been,” said Dizer. “I don’t know if times have changed but for some reason, we can’t get everybody to come out the school building and play. I don’t what the issue is there.
“We have 45 kids. We have 45 guys that want to be here and that’s a huge thing. I would love to see more kids come out and play. I hope we can get that culture back in our school building where kids just truly believe in football and what football can teach you. My whole coaching philosophy is using sports as a medium to teach you about life.”