Perhaps the most imposing challenge Hamilton High School football coach Nate Mahon has faced as he approaches his first season at his alma mater is trying to not do too much too soon.
The Big Blue is in the middle of summer workouts, a combination of conditioning, speed and agility work, weightlifting and what Mahon described as “a little football.” The Monday-through-Thursday workouts are expected to help Hamilton gear up for the official start of summer practice on Aug. 1, which will lead up to the season opener at West Clermont on Aug. 30.
Mahon and his staff are focusing on implementing changes incrementally, instead of all at once.
“The scheme stuff will take care of itself,” the former Northwest and Little Miami coach said, referring to changes in the offense and defense. “That would be hard to do if you don’t build the foundations first. You don’t try to change everything at once. We’re trying to build foundations and relations first, instead of just showing up and implementing new schemes.”
Mahon has been pleased with the attendance so far, including the 60 players who traveled to a camp at Miami University and 61 who were on hand for a camp at the University of Cincinnati.
“All the kids who need to be there or should be there have been there,” Mahon said on Monday by phone on his way from Little Miami, where he’s still transitioning out of his assistant principal’s job. “We have a lot of returning players who have been working hard with all of the guys coming back. We may have some position changes. It’s been going well.”
Mahon, who described the Miami and Cincinnati camps as “an awesome experience,” couldn’t name any individual players who have stepped up and helped guide the rest of the team through the transition.
“I think the senior class as a whole has done a great job of that,” he said. “The seniors we hope to count on have bought in. They’ve been vocal and leading by example from Day One.”
Mahon, who graduated from Hamilton in 2003, left the Little Miami program in December to take over at his alma materand is hoping to guide the Big Blue back to relevance in the Greater Miami Conference. Hamilton hasn’t experienced a winning season since going 7-4 in 2010 and was 1-9 overall and 1-7 in the GMC last year under Chad Murphy, while Mahon led Little Miami to one of its most successful seasons with a 9-3 finish and a Division II state playoff berth. He is 40-25 as a coach.
»PHOTOS: Hamilton tops Middletown 15-14
A couple of changes implemented by Mahon include combining the Garfield and Wilson seventh-grade teams into one unit and adjusting the schedule of events such as the fund-raising golf outing and the youth camp for players from kindergarten through eighth grade, which is scheduled for July 9-10 at Virgil Schwarm Stadium.
“We moved the youth camp to jive with conditioning time,” he said. “We’re hoping that moving dates around will be strategic in terms of promoting community involvement.”
The whole idea is to get the Big Blue ready for West Clermont. Mahon is trying to not look past that date to the next Friday – Hamilton’s home opener against Anderson, his first home game as coach on the field where he used to play.
“I joke with the rest of the coaches that you never want to get too high or low,” he said. “Whatever happens, you want to maintain an even keel, but that’s easier said than done. That first home game will be fantastic. It will be great to be back, but it won’t be as a good as it should be if we’re not 1-0 coming back home. Everything we talk about points to beating West Clermont and opening the season the right way. It will be a fantastic atmosphere if we come back 1-0.”
Hamilton hasn’t won a season opener since edging Milford, 17-14, in 2016. The Big Blue lost, 14-3, to West Clermont last season.
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