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Caleb Turrentine / The Observer Elmore County coach Jordan Cantrell prepares for his second year in charge of the program.

The Elmore County football team has focused on its physical play since coach Jordan Cantrell took over the program last season. During his first full offseason at the helm, the Panthers are unsurprisingly putting a major emphasis on the team’s work inside the weight room.

“The weight room is bigger than anything else to me,” Cantrell said. “The team is developed in those workouts. The work ethic is built there and that’s where team bonding is created.”

The Panthers started their summer program June 4 but continued to spend the entirety of their time off the field. Cantrell said the team turnout has still been great but he still wanted to wait to begin practicing on the field until he felt the team was ready.

“The focus has really been in the weight room,” Cantrell said. “We want to be building our strength and endurance before hitting the field. We’ll get out there this week so it’ll be our first time with football activities since the spring.”

Cantrell said the turnout has been good and he believes it is due to the way the team has kept up its energy level during workouts. He credits that to assistant coach Joe Snelick who has taken charge of the weight room with Cantrell.

“They really feed off of him,” Cantrell said. “We have competition drills in the weight room within our position groups. We’ve got a brand new team this year but in the past week, we’ve seen a lot of guys start to push each other and really compete for that top spot.”

As the summer continues, the Panthers will continue to focus on growing stronger for their physical style of play. Elmore County has to replace a lot of production from last year’s team and Cantrell knows the Panthers will have to work a lot harder this season to compete for a spot in the postseason.

“We still have the same focus we have had since the offseason started,” Cantrell said. “We want to focus on building that mental and physical toughness. We may not be the fastest or most skilled team every game but we want to be the strongest in mind.”

Elmore County is getting a slow start to the summer as the football team has pushed the start of football activities to help multi-sport athletes get time in with their other teams. However, Cantrell said he’s not worried about the delayed start because the Panthers will have a bigger focus as the season gets closer.

The Panthers have two dates for organized team activities in July, starting with hosting Tallassee and Pike Road on July 9. They will continue with a trip to Stanhope Elmore for OTAs on July 22.

Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.