La PORTE — After roughly four months on the job, Jeremy Lowery has already checked off a bevy of to-do items.
La Porte High School's new football coach has developed relationships with players, assistant coaches and administrators, hired a coaching staff, conducted workouts and conditioning, implemented an offseason program, and his team played in an elite 7-on-7 tournament.
While it's been a whirlwind time span, Lowery has loved every bit of it and feels like his team has accomplished a good deal.
“It's going well,” said Lowery, a former Penn star who came to La Porte from Paoli. “Just getting to know the players, that's been the No. 1 goal. And putting together a coaching staff, that's been the other No. 1 goal. Those have been the first two things we wanted to concentrate all our energy and effort on. I'm pretty pleased with how that's coming along. The kids seem very excited and are buying into what we're trying to do.”
The team took advantage of a little window, a new rule allowed by the Indiana High School Athletic Association, permitting football coaches to gather players in the spring.
The Slicers got together twice a week for one hour a day from the second week of April to early May. The state allows two hours twice a week in the spring, thought the coaches chose not to use all of the time for a few significant reasons.
“No. 1, we didn't want to step on the toes of any of the spring sports,” Lowery said. “And No. 2, I always like them wanting a little bit more.”
During that time, Lowery said the coaches "laid down some concepts" to give players an idea of what the team was going to be doing on both sides of the ball. He added that was kind of a nice lead-in to the summer.
At the same time, Lowery said the team also got its staff completed. It will be comprised mostly of the same coaches who've been there, but with a few new faces. Former South Central, Michigan City and Bremen head coach Bob Holmes was hired as La Porte's defensive coordinator, while Lowery's nephew, Tanner Wroblewski, was hired as wide receivers coach. Wroblewski played at Paoli and Franklin College and also coached at Paoli last year under Lowery.
“I was very impressed with who was already here,” Lowery said. "So we brought back the bulk of those guys. Bob Holmes has a ton of experience and a ton of knowledge and excitement. We're tickled to have him. And then, with Tanner Wroblewski, I like having some of those young guys right out of college. He brings a lot of energy to the table."
La Porte has had an excellent turnout of players during the offseason with between 80 to 94 players during the spring with the numbers decreasing slightly in the summer.
“It was encouraging,” Lowery said.
As part of their offseason training, the Slicers played in a 7-on-7, invite-only tournament at the Indianapolis Colts practice facility last Saturday.
Facing stiff competition, La Porte finished 0-4 in the 16-team event, which amazingly featured eight defending state champions or state runner-ups. The Slicers fell to West Lafayette, Decatur Central, Indianapolis Cathedral and Brownsburg. It had a lineman challenge as part of the event as well.
“It was a great experience for our kids,” Lowery said. “It was a nice opportunity to kind of see where we were at, but the kids went out and competed hard and that's what we were looking for.”
Lowery was hired in February from Paoli, where he had outstanding success, finishing with a 21-4 record and a sectional title in two seasons. In high school, Lowery played for legendary coach Chris Geesman at Penn, graduating in 1991.
While his new squad is developing a competitive nature, Lowery believes the most critical aspect to the offseason is players' assurance in the coaches.
“The biggest thing is trust,” Lowery said. “Everything we're doing is different. From Xs and Os, offense, defense, special teams, to just our culture and how we do things on an every day basis, how we practice every day, the expectations of what we expect out of them and the energy level. The big thing right now is just trying to get them to buy in and trust the process. We preach to them every day that we do everything for a reason.”