By Tony Burns
El Dorado worked out in shells, beginning Wednesday night at Memorial Stadium. Coach Scott Reed said, after the third day of practice, his coaches and players had gone back to basics. Practicing from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. under milder temperatures has been a godsend for the Wildcats.
“A lot of fundamentals and installation,” said Reed. “We haven’t had to condition a lot. A lot of time we start practice and we limit it to about an hour-and-thirty minutes because that’s all they can go at the pace we go at. We don’t want to teach them to be slow. We want to no-huddle and get the ball snapped and all that. So, early in camp, a lot of times we go an hour-and-a-half. We’re going two hours every night because it’s been cool. We’ve gotten a lot of reps. We’ve gotten two special teams in already in three nights. We’re three-deep there, which is good. There’s a lot of fundamentals, conditioning and then teaching our systems.”
The Wildcats had a busy summer with team camps and 7-on-7. But, Reed said this practice has still features a lot of teaching.
“Even though you’ve been running plays all summer in 7-on-7. It’s good to go back and start over,” he said. “For example, we went over installation with just three running plays on the first day. In practice two weeks ago, we were running six or eight running plays. But, we gotten a lot more detailed. We’re back to taking notes, going back through all the rules and making sure we’re all on the same page, basically, re-teaching everything.”
El Dorado won’t put the pads on until Monday. Reed has stressed the competitiveness of the practices but said positions won’t be decided until the contact begins.
“I don’t think you’ll see it until pads. There are some kids that have had some really good practices. But, pads will tell a lot,” said Reed. “But, I think looking at some of our young guys or guys that haven’t played in the past, new faces, Chris Newton is doing some good things at safety. We’ve got some good (defensive) linemen coming that were sophomores last year. Moving (Brayden) Cook to defense, that will help us. We have some depth on our defensive line.
“I think Keontae Larry as a running back has matured a lot. He needs to continue to do that when we get into pads. But, he looks better. You can tell watching some kids, they change in a year. You never know when they’re going to hit a growth spurt or when they’re going to mature physically or whatever. But, Chris Newton is one of those guys. You saw it coming because he really blossomed during track. He had a great track season and it’s carried over in the fall.”
Next week, practically every position will be up for grabs after losing so many seniors off last year’s squad. The coaches are excited to see how it shakes out.
“We’re going to have a lot of competition at linebacker. We’ll have competition at corner. We have four or five guys competing for three spots at safety,” said Reed. “It needs to be competitive because we’re losing a week of practice. It’s condensed but, in our situation, having the good weather helps because we’re getting more in.”