Meridian Star

June 13, 2014

Russell Christian prepping for upcoming season in weight room

By Drew Kerekes \
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN — Dustin Kellogg wants to bench press 405 pounds by the time he’s ready to play football.

It’s not for bragging rights, though — the senior center/nose guard at Russell Christian Academy said the explosive effort put into bench press will translate onto the field this fall when he takes the field with the rest of his Warrior teammates.

“It gives you a center of power when you’re pass and drive blocking,” Kellogg said. “The power comes from your shoulders and core in pass blocking, and if you don’t have a strong bench press, you don’t have push power.”

Kellogg, along with many of his teammates, is currently undergoing summer workouts in preparation for the season this fall. The team lifts weights in the mornings from Monday through Thursday and focus on condition, speed and explosions after a winter of building strength, according to head coach Nate Ballard. So far, he’s been happy with the team’s response to the workouts.

“Participation has been awesome,” Ballard said. “The kids have been really excited and have really been getting after it. This is a hard-working bunch. They’ve bought into what we’ve done in the weight room and what we’re trying to do in the field, and the kids are really excited about it.”

Kellogg said he’s modeling his weight room attitude after friend and former teammate Dylan Jones. Jones, a middle linebacker, transferred to Lamar this year, and Kellogg said he’s hoping to help fill the void left by Jones’ departure.

“It was a big leadership loss,” Kellogg explained. “He led the team before I did. He was an inspiration on the field and in the weight room, because he loves to win.”

At this point, Kellogg said he feels comfortable with others looking to him for leadership.

“It’s reached the point where I know how to lead in the weight room,” he said. “I’ve just been helping my teammates strive toward what they want to do but maybe can’t do by themselves.”

Conditioning isn’t the only focal point of summer workouts. Ballard said the team has been able to work incrementally on the team’s offensive scheme.”

“One day a week, we go out there and work on our offense in 7 on 7s,” Ballard said. “The scheme part, we’re breaking in a new defense and offense, so we’re slowly trying to implement that through training and classes and walking through some stuff, but officially we can’t begin any of that until July 30.”

Offensively, Ballard said his team would be moving toward more of a option attack instead of the usual quick passing game.

“That’s more geared toward the skillset of the players we have this year,” he said.

The Warriors don’t currently have a defensive coordinator, but Ballard said he and his staff are evaluating what kind of defense they’d like to install by the time the season rolls around.

“Right now, we’re just looking at a lot of different things and talking to some other high school coaches in the area that have been some good help,” Ballard said. “We’re just looking at what scheme is going to fit our personnel the best this year. We play a lot of Wing T teams in the division they’ve put us in, so we’ve got to find something to stop that.”

Last season, Russell Christian finished 4-4 after moving to the Alabama Independent School Association. Ballard said the move happened for mostly academic and other considerations and had little to do with sports. The Warriors, Ballard said, play in one of the toughest divisions in AISA.

“We’re in an extremely tough region, and it didn’t do us any favors last year in football,” Ballard said.

After playing against Mississippi athletes most of his life, Kellogg said there is a difference in the caliber of players he’s going up against in Alabama.

“I would said they’re better teams,” Kellogg said. “Mostly, they’re a lot stronger physically than teams I’ve played in Mississippi.”