LINCOLN -- Lincoln High School football coach Matt Zedaker was relieved to return to the practice field for the start of fall camp Monday.
After spending the past two months working on strength and conditioning, Zedaker was pleased to finally be able to work on football.
“It has been good to get back into football,” Zedaker said. “I know the coaching staff is excited to be able to get into it with all the stipulations and all the regulations we were bound to in the summertime. It was basically working out and getting kids in shape. We weren’t doing that much football because of the static groups that we were bound by.
“The kids are hopping around; we have had really good numbers. It has been a really good two days.”
Monday was the first time AHSAA schools have been allowed to practice football since last season after spring practice was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last week, the AHSAA mandated that if teams were going to start practice this week, they would have to be in shorts and helmets.
Zedaker said he had to revamp his original plan after that announcement.
“To be honest with you, it is probably better because we have to teach,” Zedaker said. “The first two or three days of any fall camp, you are inserting all of your offense and defense. You are throwing a ton at the kids.”
The Golden Bears are coming off a successful 2019 campaign. Lincoln went 9-3 and fell in the second round of the AHSAA playoffs.
The Golden Bears lost several key pieces from last season’s team, including two-time Talladega County Class 4A-5A Player of the Year quarterback Javion Surles. Lincoln will turn to junior Jack Poarch to lead the offense this season.
“Jack Poarch has been grooming for this role the last two years,” Zedaker said. “He has come in looking really good. He hasn’t played a full game ever. He saw spot duty last year and the year before.
“Now, it is his offense. He is a different type of quarterback and athlete. Javion was athletic, and Jack is going to be a lot more of a pocket passer. He can really get to a second and third read on our passing game.”
Running back Chorion Kelly also transformed his body going into his junior season. Kelly had a stellar sophomore campaign and is expected to have an even larger impact on the offense this season thanks to Lincoln’s new running backs coach, Matt Griffith.
The former Sylacauga head coach had a 1,000-yard back every season while at the Aggie helm. Last season, the Aggies had a pair of backs rush for more than 1,000 yards. Zedaker coached on Griffith’s staff for over a decade, and the two have remained close since Zedaker took over at Lincoln four years ago.
“The opportunity presented itself when he retired from coaching,” Zedaker said. “I presented him with the opportunity to see if he wanted to come help us out, and luckily, everything worked out where he can.
“What a great asset to our players and coaching staff. He has over 100 wins and a wealth of knowledge that he can bring to the coaching staff and these kids. It would be silly of me if I couldn’t bring him on if that opportunity presented itself.
“It is also good that he knows our offensive coordinator, Will Hill. They are friends and they have really jelled together … He is tickled to death and we are too. The kids have really gravitated to him, and the coaching staff has as well.”
The Golden Bears moved up to Class 5A, Region 6, where they will face Sylacauga on Aug. 28. Lincoln will open the season on Aug. 21 against Southside at Keith Howard Memorial Stadium.