Tuesday, August 03, 2010

SPORTS>>Jackrabbits hopping to it

Leader sportswriter

The terminology can be confusing, and we’re not even talking about football plays yet.

High school practice typically begins during the first week of August, but is traditionally referred to as “fall camp.” That probably seems like a misnomer with late-morning practice temperatures nearing triple digits.

The Jackrabbits, who reached the 4A state final and lost to Shiloh Christian in the cool of December, held their first practice Monday morning with 40 players reporting. Each class was well representedwith 12 seniors, 12 juniors and 16 sophomores.

While preparing for the likes of Central Arkansas Christian, Stuttgart and Newport, Lonoke is dealing with a more immediate adversary: the sweltering heat.

“We got spoiled last year,” Bost said. “I remember it raining last August; the field was holding water. We were out on the practice field in our boots. But it’s totally the opposite of that this year. We know it’s going to be a problem.”

The skill players are still fresh from monthly 7-on-7-league play at Searcy High School during most of June and July, while the linemen focused on working out in the weight room most of the summer.

“We had a good month of July,” Bost said. “We had workouts, camps, 7-on-7, but it is good to get everybody out there and start getting ready for the season. We’re excited to get it all started.”

Practices are from 8 a.m.-noon with a 30-minute break somewhere in the middle. Monday was the first day for all players to be in one place at the same time since spring.

“The morning practice went real good,” Bost said. “About 10:30, the heat started kicking in, and you could tell. The kids got kind of sluggish, but they know and we know it’s from the heat.

“We’ve got 28 days to get ready for the first game, so we’ll have to find a way to fight through that.”

One major battle taking place this fall is between senior quarterback Logan Dewhitt and junior Tarrell Watson. How they perform the next two weeks will determine which player will lead the Jackrabbits offense while the other will likely play receiver.

“I sat them both down and told them it was an open competition,” Bost said. “That’s good for us. And it’s good for them, because they can push each other.”

Bost is working closely with the skill players, while Randy Phillips works with the linemen. Early reports from Phillips have been encouraging.

“We’re real pleased right now,” Bost said. “He’s been bragging on those first two groups. It didn’t look like the heat bothered those guys at all. When they do running drills, they line up the same way they would on the field, so they’ve got it down to a T.

“But they are communicating with each other well. We’re pretty excited about those first five. There’s some big boys in that group, so we’re looking at a little more size than what we had last year.”

The Jackrabbits will play host to Oak Grove in a scrimmage game on Aug. 23 and will start the season Aug. 30 with a Monday night Hooten’s Kickoff Classic game against Star City at Arkansas-Pine Bluff’s Golden Lions Stadium.

It will be the first high school game of the season in Arkansas.