Nov. 23—TIFTON — Offseason conditioning for Tift County baseball has been going on all year for the Blue Devils, but mid-November has meant the formal start to Greg Williams' 300 Challenge.
The 2023 campaign will be Williams' second in charge of the squads. He initiated the 300 challenge with them a year and is hopeful this one will be the rise of the empire. The Blue Devils were 17-11 a year ago, their first winning record since 2015.
Williams said he has a strong foundation for when the games begin. Currently, the opening date on a schedule input on MaxPreps is Feb. 10 at Camden County. Their first listed home game is Feb. 18 against Central of Carrollton. He's already seen much progress from where Tift was a year ago.
"A big jump," he said. Williams said it has not just been physical progress. "The culture, them understanding what our expectations are, what our core values are ... It's gotten so much better."
The 300 challenge is awards points in different areas. Williams measures them in a variety of agility drills, strength (squats and bench press) and in other traditional exercises, such as push-ups and sit-ups. Points are awarded in each. Three hundred is the goal, but 500 points are possible. Those achieving 300 will be honored at a banquet in late January.
Williams said he will compare the scores of a year ago to what they achieve this time. "We know we've gotten stronger," he said.
Tift will be going from the tough Region 1-7A to a perhaps even more tough 1-6A. Houston County won the state 6A title two years ago and was eliminated in the elite eight in 2022.
Fans will see some Atlanta area schools in Tifton early in the season, said Williams, in addition to the border wars with Florida teams. They will head down to Florida at the end of March 2023 for games against West Nassau and Yulee. Other listed non-region contests will be against such powerhouses as Valdosta, Thomasville and Schley County.