FOOTBALL: Port Charlotte focuses on weight training

By Jordan Kroeger, SunCoast Sports

PORT CHARLOTTE — It only takes a few minutes of conversation with Port Charlotte coach Jordan Ingman to find out what his football program is really all about.

Weightlifting.

“We live in the weight room,” Ingman said.

That’s why it’s no surprise Port Charlotte defensive tackle Devin Leacock is one of the best in the state, or the fact that he won a state weightlifting title this past spring. It’s also no surprise that Ingman cuts back on 7-on-7 scrimmages to make sure his players have more time in the weight room, where he believes games are won before they’re ever kicked off.

“We believe in making sure our kids are strong, in shape and mentally tough, and that comes from being in there,” Ingman said. “Everybody enjoys 7-on-7, but can you get in the squat rack for eight sets? Can you do that? That takes a different kind of dude. I do 7-on-7s because our kids really enjoy them, it’s great change of pace monotony-wise but I can’t stress it enough that the weight room is really where we hang our hat.”

The Pirates are hoping to hang their hat on a district trophy this upcoming season, which requires taking down defending champion Charlotte. Players hit the weight room every morning as part of the hopeful journey there come November, with one 7-on-7 scrimmage or tournament scheduled weekly.

Port Charlotte has either traveled locally or hosted a single-team 7-on-7 scrimmage this summer. Ingman also took his team to one big 7-on-7 tournament that featured Island Coast, Riverdale, Moore Haven, Cypress Lake, Ida Baker and Cape Coral.

“We try not to go far away because the foundation of what we do is lifting weights,” Ingman said. “All this stuff is great but what matters is the weight room and we don’t want to do anything that jeopardizes our time in the weight room. I’m not a big fan of the 7-on-7s. I mean, we see stuff offensively that’s crazy. I have dreams of the looks we get defensively in real football so we try to get something out of those things but we definitely don’t sacrifice our time in the weight room to go all over for 7-on-7 tournaments because I think football wise it’s won in the trenches.”

The Pirates performed well at the seven-team 7-on-7 tournament, going 4-1-1 on the day. That record was even more impressive in Ingman’s eyes considering starting quarterback Paul Barnes wasn’t in attendance, and since last year’s backup Alex Muse transferred to Charlotte, Ingman was forced to move Tyler Perry from receiver to signal caller on the fly.

“He did really well, to be honest with you. For not playing quarterback for a year he did really, really well,” Ingman said.

“He’s an athlete, and the biggest thing TP is is he’s a competitor. He’s incredible. He plays four different positions for us — corner, safety, wide receiver and quarterback — he’s an athlete.”

“Overall we’ve still got a lot of work to do. But we do 7-on-7s every week because it’s really good work for our kids.”

One big takeaway from Port Charlotte’s 7-on-7s has been the receiving corp. T.J. Luther and Shemar Fleurrisant, along with Perry, have shown the ability to stretch the field with Barnes this summer. That’s been an encouraging sign for an offense that was typically run dominant last season.

“We’ve definitely developed our vertical passing game, which is important because we believe in running the football so when you get in the box if we can stretch it vertically that’s a big deal for us,” Ingman said. “And our quarterbacks are getting better every day as far as Tyler and Paul so that’s been good.”

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