Tuesday, July 31, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Badgers off to good start

Leader sportswriter

The numbers are a little low but the spirits are high in Beebe’s fall football camp.

A total of 48 prospective varsity Badgers turned out on Monday following a spring and summer of stringent workouts that included team camps and 7 on 7 sessions.

The day started with a 6 a.m. weight room session followed by an afternoon of no-contact drills for the linemen and skill players.

“I thought it was a good first day,” Beebe head coach John Shannon said. “We lifted weights this morning and we came back this afternoon. And, I don’t know, I had people coming out telling me it was 108, 110, 112 – I don’t know how hot it was, but I know I’ve been out in it a lot hotter than what today was. It may have been hot, but it wasn’t as hot as it has been.

“I thought our kids handled the heat well and worked hard. With the new AAA guidelines, there wasn’t a whole lot we could do, so we just did a lot of teaching today. I thought the kids paid real good attention and worked hard trying to do what we wanted them to do. So I was pleased with the way things went today.”

Compared to many 5A programs, and even some 4A programs with numbers typically in the lower to mid 50s, a roster of 48 may seem a little thin, but Shannon said that although depth is a concern for him, he is happy with the kids he does have.

“We’re a little down number wise, but the group we’ve got is working hard, and has been ever since January, so we’re excited about what we’ve got. We’re probably like most 5A schools, our biggest problem is going to be depth. If we stay healthy, we feel like we’ve got a chance to be pretty good. If we lose someone in the right position, it could get ugly in a hurry, but I’m sure a lot of schools are in that boat.”

Shannon’s expectations for training with the Badgers throughout the year is among the strictest in the state, but the group actually caught somewhat of a break at the start of the summer before business picked up at the first of this month.

“We changed our summer program this year,” Shannon said. “We only worked five days in the whole month of June. Those five days were basically team camps and 7 on 7. We came back on July 9, and we had mandatory workouts four days a week. It was about an hour and a half of real intense work. The kids handled it real well, then last Thursday we finished up summer with 56 sprints out on the game field. It was (grades) 8-12, and we had about 120 kids out there, and they all passed the test with flying colors.

“We’re real pleased where the whole program is at conditioning-wise going into our fall camp,” Shannon said.

The Arkansas Activities Association changed up the policy for fall practice this season. Teams can go only with helmets and shorts the first two days with no contact of any kind, and three days of helmets and shoulder pads with the option to hit dummies before starting the second week with full pads and full contact. Two-a-days sessions are also not allowed until the second week, and even then is limited to every other day.

“It’s been an adjustment,” Shannon said. “No two-a-days anymore the first week, which I’m disappointed in because that’s my favorite part of the whole year – you get football all day long, and you don’t have to worry about school or work or anything else. You’re just out there practicing football and having a good time. Monitor and adjust, that’s all you can do.”