By Tony Burns
Night time has been the right time for El Dorado’s football practices this season. The Wildcats opened the first week of practices with 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. workouts at Memorial Stadium.
In the past, El Dorado has routinely worked out during the afternoon, anywhere from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Partly in anticipation of the August heat, Coach Scott Reed went to the evening sessions. He said it’s paid off even better than expected and will consider doing it in the future.
“The quality of practice that we’re getting, we’re going to take a good look at it. That’s number one,” he said. “Number two, our kids like it. They love getting to be under the lights, right now. They know what it’s like at three o’clock. They’re eating before practice. They get breakfast and lunch for sure. And, the quality of our practices has been good.”
The first week of practice was a tad cooler than normal. Still, the health of the players is always a concern. Practicing at night eliminates some of those heat-related issues.
“Another great thing about the evening practice, we haven’t had a kid that was at any time where we were worried about him. The temperature has a lot to do with that,” Reed said. “But, there aren’t any kids throwing up or having to go inside. So far, we’ve had two hours of football and not had to stop for anything else. The weather has been perfect. We’re getting what we want. I think our whole staff would agree with that.”
El Dorado’s first week featured teaching and installation. Early on, that will continue to be the focus.
“We need to do more teamwork. I don’t want to do the same thing every day. We’ve done a lot of pass skeleton and different stuff,” said Reed. “We’re working against pressures and blitzes earlier. I think that’s going to help us. I think, mentally, as far as understanding how to pick up certain blitzes and when the ball has to come out early, and even for defense, walking through it and where we fit, I think that’s helping us. For the most part in team, being this early, it looks pretty good. It looks like we know what we’re doing, for the most part, on both sides of the ball.
“We’ll continue to push installation, tax them mentally as well as physically. The conditioning is going to take care of itself in August.”
As far as practicing under the lights instead of the midday sun, Reed likes the idea of his players walking off the field good and tired just before bedtime.
“Hopefully, they’re tired. They’re not going home taking a nap. They’re going home and getting something to eat and going to bed,” he said with a smile.
“I asked them the other day, the whole group. I said, O.K., we’ve got Wednesday coming up and we have certain things. We have in-service and we’re going to have a parent meeting. Do ya’ll want to move Wednesday’s practice up? ‘No.’ I mean, down the line, they wanted to keep the schedule the same.
“They even want it on Friday night. I think morale is important, too.”