Former El Dorado football coach Scooter Register used to say, “Every day is a great day to be a Wildcat.”
Never was that statement more true than Monday when the football team put on helmets and opened practice for a long-awaited and still questionable regular season. The Wildcats practiced at the high school’s turf facility for about two hours until noon.
“I thought our guys competed very well today. I thought we moved around very well,” said Coach Steven Jones. “There’s a lot of energy in the building. Just to be back to a sense of normal, it’s good to see everybody with a football helmet on and practicing with the team. That was nice for sure.”
El Dorado reported for a team meeting at 8:30 in the morning. From there, the players went through position meetings and hit the weights before meeting on the field at 10 for stretching and some individual drill work.
Practice really kicked off with 7-on-7 pass skel.
“We played 7-on-7 right off the bat so we could see who could move around a little bit,” Jones said. “Offense and defense, I felt like today, we saw guys move around well. We didn’t do a whole lot as far as scheme goes. We stayed pretty generic. There were some guys out there making some plays.”
The 7-on-7 opened with a bang when Eli Shepherd connected with junior R.J. Thomas on a deep route on the first snap.
“He just a ran a vertical, beat the corner. It was a good way to start practice,” said Jones, who spotlighted Thomas on opening day.
“R.J. had a really good day. He’s been a kid that’s worked so hard throughout the summer. He looks a step faster. We’re hoping R.J. can make some plays for us this year.”
Score was kept throughout the 7-on-7 with the offense getting a point for a score and the defense scoring with a stop.
“Offense won today. There’s no doubt,” said Jones, who said the timing of the passing game appeared sharp.
“The timing was great today. The thing we needed to see was movement. The same on the defensive side of the ball, too. We’ve been going on air for so long, to have the defense out there, we could see the moving parts,” he said. “The timing is fine. We’ve been running routes on air for two months, so the timing is something we feel pretty good about.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Wildcats haven’t had any actual football contact in several months. Because of that, Jones said the offensive and defensive lines are probably the furthest behind.
The teams are limited to helmets (today) and can put shoulder pads on Wednesday, although with no contact.
“Not being able to touch each other and not being able to be physical until next week, they’ve probably got the biggest catching up to do,” Jones said of the linemen. “We were able to go against bags today. We can go against dummies. We cannot hit sleds until Wednesday when we put shoulder pads on. But we were at least able to block something other than air.”
Today’s practice is expected to be more of the same. Wednesday through Friday will be what Jones termed, “acclimatization period” to get used to wearing shoulder pads.
Jones said the team will probably use the turf facility for practice every day unless it goes to the stadium.
“Everybody seems pretty healthy. It looks like we’re in pretty good shape,” he added. “We ran our fourth quarter program at about 11:45. That’s probably the hottest part of the practice. Our guys competed and ran those sprints and did a good job winning the fourth quarter. That’s something we’re going to emphasize this year along with a few other things. Fourth quarter is when we have to compete.”