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Football season is nearly three months away, but Roane County’s five high school teams recently spent a good portion of May preparing for the 2014 season with spring practice.
Spring practice is the only live look coaches get at their team in pads before fall practice begins in late July. Until then, all five county teams have similar schedules as all will spend the majority of their summer in the weight room getting stronger or doing conditioning and agility work.
Below is a wrap-up of spring practice for all five county teams.
While most teams hold spring practice in April or May, the Blue Devils went out in February. The decision, however, was made out of necessity, not because Harriman head coach Travis Tapp likes snow.
“We go out at a different time because we have so many kids playing soccer and baseball, but I was stll really pleased with the work we got in,” Tapp said.
For a team that played a large number of sophomore in 2013, the spring session wasn’t built around looking for replacements, but rather getting better fundamentally.
“We worked on the basics,” Tapp said. “It was all about blocking and tackling.”
The biggest improvement Tapp noticed during spring practice was simply the growth of some of his players since last season.
“We have a ton of kids that will be juniors and it’s been amazing to see how they’ve grown since week 10 of last season until now.”
Perhaps the coach most excited to have spring practice was Kingston’s Brian Pankey. He will be entering his second year as head coach at his alma mater, but he wasn’t named head coach last year until after spring practice concluded.
Missing spring practice hurt the Jackets last season as the Jackets were a putting in a new system. Pankey believes spring practice helped the Jackets this year.
“We had a really good spring,” Pankey said. “Our numbers were up and we were able to give a lot of inexperienced kids some good reps.”
The position that needed the most work this spring was the offensive line.
“We lost four of five starters last year so how fast we can get them ready was a big concern,” Pankey said. “But they did well, especially Colt Letner and Thomas McGill. They’ve been working hard learning our blocking schemes. Sometimes the hardest thing to learn is who to block.”
Spring practice at Midway didn’t last as long as expected due to the success of the Green Wave baseball team, but head coach Joe Campbell was still happy with the progress his team showed.
“We had the shortest spring practice we’ve ever had because everybody wanted to see the baseball team, but we saw what we needed to see this spring and got in a lot of good work,” Campbell said. “We spent most of our time working on fundamentals, but we did tweak a couple of things on offense. We didn’t change anything on defense.”
While the defense didn’t change, Midway was looking for help at linebacker and Coach Campbell believes that help has arrived in the form of Dakota Narramore and Cody Schommer.
“We found a good one in Cody Schommer,” Campbell said. “He’s going to play or SAM position. Cody played DB for us last year and our SAM backer is more of a rover that will move outside in coverage as well. Dakota Narramore also looked good at the MIKE position. We lost two linebackers last year and needed those guys to step up.”
One position that most Green Wave fans are interested in is at quarterback as Midway is looking for a replacement for all-state signal caller Shandon Lyle.
“That’s an open position right now and won’t be decided until we put the pads on in the fall,” Campbell said. “I’m more focused on the center position right now. We had a guy there that didn’t have a bad snap in three years and that’s been an area of concern so far.”
For Bobcat head coach Wiley Brackett, his approach to spring wasn’t necessarily devoted to X’s and O’s.
“We’re just trying to get tougher,” Brackett said. “We’re young in a lot of places and we’ve got to get better at everything. The main thing this group has to do is stay in the weight room and get stronger.”
With those youngsters in mind, Brackett’s approach in spring practice was making sure they could do the basics.
“We just did the fundamentals,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do before the season starts.”
For Tiger head coach John Webb, he was pleased with spring practice despite low numbers that came from injuries, players playing other sports, and incoming freshmen not being able to join the team until the school year ended.
“We went to our scrimmage at York with only 24 players, but all-in-all things went pretty well,” Webb said. “We’ve got some experience coming back, but we went back to the basics this spring. Now we’ll spend the summer in the weight room and staying in shape.”
One area that saw improvement this spring despite low numbers was the offensive line.
“I was worried about our depth in the line going into the spring, but we had some younger kids like Dawson Brown and Caleb Grant that stepped up.”