Tuesday, May 29, 2007

SPORTS>>Progress pleasing to new coach

Leader sports editor

The Beebe Badgers completed their five days of spring football practice Tuesday under the tutelage of new coach John Shannon. Shannon spent the spring session installing the basic fundamentals of the T-formation offense, and is very excited about how the former spread team picked up on the change.

“I thought we got a little better each day,” Shannon, a 1983 graduate of Beebe, said. “Of course we’ve got a long way to go, we only put in the basics, but everything went really well. I’m pleased with how the kids reacted. I believe we’re actually ahead of schedule. The kids picked up pretty quick on what we were able to put in.”

Shannon estimates that he and his staff were able to install about 25 percent of the offense and close to half of the 5-2 defense that new defensive coordinator Sean Robertson will utilize. While it doesn’t sound like much, Shannon reiterated that it is ahead of where he thought, or planned to be at this point.

“It’s such a dramatic switch in philosophy, of course we couldn’t get the whole thing in,” Shannon said. “We only really worked on the basics though, and they picked up on it. Hopefully over the summer when we get into more detail, they’ll continue to do so.”

Shannon plans to hold two practices per week starting June 5. The team will usually spend about an hour of those sessions lifting weights and running, and an hour working with the football. Shannon put the team on a new weight program shortly after being hired, but the team proved to be in pretty good form already. After finishing spring practice in pads, the players tested on weights Wednesday and Thursday, and Shannon liked what he saw. “I am extremely pleased with where we are strength-wise, and it should only get better,” Shannon said. “That was a pleasant surprise.”

Shannon also likes the athleticism of his squad. The line has good size and the backs, offensive and defensive, have good speed. “We don’t have any 100-meter champions out here, but we’ve got some kids that can move pretty well. They remind me a lot of the kids we had at Cabot, only bigger. That’s what amazes me, is the size this team has.”

The quarterback spot is still a battle between Roger Glaude and Charlie Spakes. Shannon says both are playing well, but excel in different areas.

Kyle Williams has been a standout on defense, and drew praise from the new head coach. “Kyle Williams has had an outstanding spring at linebacker,” Shannon said. “We’re really excited with the way he’s playing and the effort he’s giving us out there.”

The offensive line, which is Shannon’s specialty, is settled save one tight end spot. Shannon said Josh Turner and James Anderson excelled in the secondary. Beebe also added George Schwaab to the coaching staff this week. Scwaab, who came from Marion, will coach the secondary.