Friday, August 13, 2010

SPORTS>>Beebe off to strong start for most part

Leader sportswriter

The good news for Beebe players heading into the second week of August football camp was the Badgers’ daily schedule being cut from two sessions a day to one.

The bad news was the one daily session fell in the sweltering afternoon heat.

“The kids are working real hard, and we know it’s hot, but for the most part, we’ve handled the heat real well,” coach John Shannon said. “We’ve had to move all of our practices back to 3:30 because of all the teacher’s meetings, and that’s made it a little tough on us, because that’s the hottest part of the day.”

To compensate, Shannon shifted practice time to 7-11 a.m. Friday, and he deemed the second week a success despite Monday’s sluggish start and an irksome performance that led a disgusted Shannon to send the whole team home early Thursday.

The afternoon storm that rolled through southern White County on Tuesday provided some relief from the heat, and Shannon said the team didn’t have a fall-off when the sun returned Wednesday afternoon.

The Badgers ended the first week with a morning special-teams practice today before dismissing until Monday.

“Giving them that much time off and then coming back, they’re a little sluggish, and they were on Monday for sure,” Shannon said. “The rest of the week has been good. The kids are working hard, and we feel like we’re on pace if not a little ahead of schedule from where we want to be this year.”

One advantage Shannon has found in dealing with the triple-digit temperatures has been the chance to see which players tend to fight through adversity. With much of the groundwork for this season done in spring practice and early summer, improving on the small things is top chore for the Badgers.

“We’re just looking for consistency, especially on the offensive side of the ball,” Shannon said. “The offensive linemen getting off at the same time, ourhandoffs are smooth, our throwing and catching are smooth, just consistency. On defense, we’re working on things like hitting the right gap, being in the right place at the right time and making sure we have our reads down.”

Beebe also started working on special teams during the second week and will use today’s practice to make sure everyone understands the assignments.

Last year’s 3-7 season was the worst of Shannon’s three, and it was the first time the Badgers did not reach the postseason under his leadership. But a larger pool of experienced upperclassmen provides the numbers and knowledge Shannon is hoping to see.

“This time last year, we were so young with not a whole lot of seniors,” Shannon said.

“It was hard to get kids to a point where it was reaction and not having to stop and think about it. One thing we really stressed starting in the offseason was our work ethic — not dreading it but coming prepared, and the kids have bought into it.”

The only significant injury in the first two weeks was a separated shoulder for junior cornerback Brandon Fuller. But Fuller should be able to return before the start of the season and could potentially be back in time for the scrimmage game jamboree at Harding Academy Aug. 24 against Harding Academy and Trumann.