A few of Ryan Chancellor’s friends on the Oak Park-River Forest football team tried to persuade him to go to Core 6, a Deerfield training facility for football players, during the offseason.
Chancellor declined the invitation because of the cost and his desire to work out with as many of his high school teammates as possible.
But Chancellor, a 6-foot-3, 180-pound senior wide receiver who aspires to play in college, said he believes he can complete all of the necessary strength training and conditioning on the high school’s campus.
During the break between the summer contact days that ended in late July and the start of preseason practice on Aug. 14, Chancellor and the other four team captains — seniors Andre Lee, Emonte Logan, Michael Hayden and Josh Hale — organized workouts three days a week at the school’s football field.
Chancellor said as many as 15 players showed up any given day for the voluntary sessions.
“You have to be self-motivated if you do it this way,” Chancellor said. “I just don’t think it’s worth extra money to have someone push you.”
Oak Park-River Forest coach John Hoerster also downplayed the need for private training and instruction.
“Places like Core 6 do a brilliant job of marketing and selling you on what you do at your high school isn’t enough,” Hoerster said.
One of the drills the OPRF coaches prescribed for their players involved use of the Prowler, a weight sled that has a pair of vertical bars resembling field goal posts. The Prowler can be pushed or pulled.
The Prowler often was loaded with two 45-pound plates and pushed by one player a total of 40 yards. Chancellor said the workouts also included flipping tractor-size tires up and down the field a total of 20 times.
Stevenson senior Corey Edidin also subscribes to the idea of staying on school grounds.
The 6-0, 240-pound offensive lineman was among a group of players who gathered at Stevenson’s baseball field in recent weeks to participate in extra exercises.
“I honestly believe I get a lot done with my teammates there,” said Edidin, who doesn’t plan on playing football in college. “We always were texting each other and hounding each other to make sure we got our workouts in at the school. It was a great place to meet and a great way to keep each other active during the downtime.”
Edidin said he and the other linemen would usually concentrate on improving and refining techniques, especially their footwork.
“We would set up a progression and go through our steps,” he said. “We would get into a right stance and work on making that first right step. We then would move on to pass steps. It was all about footwork.
“Once we (were) able to start hitting each other, the last thing I want to worry about is my footwork.”
Edidin said some of his strength training took place at Lifetime Fitness, but he also said players would do conditioning work, such as sprints, at the baseball field.
“We didn’t have access to equipment at the school, so we had to be as creative as possible and make sure we stayed motivated,” he said. “I liked that challenge.”
Shortly after Maine South’s season ended last year, Greg Ebacher said he attended two sessions at EFT Sports Performance in Highland Park during the week of Thanksgiving. He then returned to the school and its facilities because of the expense.
“I think our coaches come up with great programs for us,” said the 6-2, 230-pound senior defensive lineman said.
Like Chancellor, Ebacher said he likes using the Prowler because it allows the football players to work on both strength and conditioning. If he’s feeling good, he said he piles 270 pounds on the sled and pushes it 40 yards. He also takes advantage of the equipment’s versatility. He can push against the sled’s bars while remaining relatively upright or he can get low, lean forward and propel the sled forward.
Ebacher also goes old school on occasion. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him pushing his father’s Cadillac Escalade in the parking lot at Maine South.
“That’s something I’ve been doing for a few years now,” Ebacher said.
Ebacher added, “I learned some stuff when I was at EFT. But it’s a long drive, and it’s not all that necessary. There’s always something you can do on your own, and I like to do something every day.”