Friday, August 10, 2012

SPORT STORY >> Jackrabbits bringing the intensity

Leader sportswriter

Some teams begin to grow tiresome of hitting each other toward the end of the second week of fall football practice, but the Lonoke Jackrabbits were making the most of it and then some with a spirited practice on Thursday morning.

The practice went for three hours, and featured every type of special teamwork, individual drills, and concluded with a half hour scrimmage that had players and coaches fired up.

“It’s intensity right now,” Lonoke head coach Doug Bost said. “It gets old banging on the same people, so if they can bring that intensity for these three weeks before we hit somebody live, that’s great. We want that. They’ve brought the intensity, and they are challenging each other. When the scout team does something good, they get excited, and that’s what we want.

“It’s tough to go over there and be a running back on the scout team that’s going up against a first defense, but we’re proud of those guys, and we love what they’re doing – they’re only making us better.”

Junior kicker Jose Garcia was relegated to the sideline during the final scrimmage, but did put in significant time in the middle of practice and went perfect on a series of full-scrimmage extra-point attempts with the exception of one attempt that was blocked.

The punt-return team also had significant practice time, as senior returner Blake Gooden put his speed and agility on display against the coverage team. Gooden slipped past his defenders on a few occasions and was cornered on other return attempts.

“We’ve been hitting it 20 minutes a day,” Bost said of special teams. “That’s definitely an important part of the game, so we’re working on that, and still doing offense, defense, individual work. We’ve got more time this time of the year, so we’re getting our three hours worth.”

A few players are held out due to injuries, including senior receiver Reid McKenzie, who suffered an injury to his Achilles’ tendon during Wednesday practice.

Others are returning from previous injuries, as in the case of senior lineman Nelson Brown, who is still recovering from shoulder surgery last December. Bost stated that Brown is working out in practices, but is limited to offense.

“He’s been a two-way player for us,” Bost said. “So we hope he gets back, because he’s a big part of our team. I think we’ve got about six of seven banged up right now.”

While attendance has been an issue at some local schools, the Jackrabbits have been showing up consistently in full force during the past two weeks. Bost said that has helped contribute to a successful and productive camp thus far.

“The people who are on the team are here, they’re not missing practice,” Bost said. “We’ve got everything in, but it’s just over and over to where they don’t have to think about it. They just go and play fast – that’s what we want out of these three weeks.”

Lonoke will have its scrimmage game Monday, Aug. 20 at Maumelle High School with the junior high scrimmaging at 5:30 p.m. and the varsity team at 7 p.m.