Tuesday, August 07, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Beebe looking good in pads

Leader sportswriter

Old-school football coaches enjoy the old-school methods of practicing, so it was hardly a surprise on Monday when Beebe head coach John Shannon was beaming over the first day of August two-a-days.

The Badgers started the second week with a morning session that went from 7 a.m. until 10 a.m., and returned in the afternoon for a 1 p.m. session that went until around 3:30 p.m.

“The first week, I was pleased with it,” Shannon said. “I thought it went pretty good. It was an adjustment – basically, we didn’t get any contact. And then Saturday, we brought them in and scrimmaged. The scrimmage went pretty good. There’s always things you can work on, but we were pleased with where we were at at the end of the first week.”

Shannon, who was himself a standout lineman at Beebe in the early 1980s, expressed his frustration last week at the limited amount of days where two separate practices can be held. Now, with two-a-days as an option every other day at the start of the second week, the head Badger plans on making the most of those sessions.

“To me, it’s a time where you can build your team chemistry,” Shannon said. “You don’t have anything else going on but football. It’s usually hot, and you have to depend on each other. It’s just a good time to build that unity that you need for a football team. That’s something we don’t get to do anymore except here and there. We have to adjust and monitor, and try to find new ways to do things – try to get the same results we’ve gotten in the past.”

One of the main focal points for the Badgers this fall is replacing all-conference nose guard Dustin Skinner. Skinner, a junior who started as a sophomore and displayed tremendous strength and instincts on the field, suffered a knee injury with a torn anterior cruciate ligament at a team camp back in July. He is scheduled for surgery on Aug. 8, and will be out for the entire season.

“At least it happened at a point where we had time to find someone to replace him,” Shannon said. “We’ve got two or three guys working in that spot. Hopefully they’re going to be ready by the time we play Greenbrier.

“It’s going to be a big loss for us, and we’re going to need some kids to step up to replace him. As good as he played as a sophomore, the way he was progressing and as strong as he was getting, we felt like he probably had a shot to go somewhere (college wise). And hopefully, he still will if he works real hard and rehabs right, comes back strong for his senior year, things will be good. Right now, it’s tough on him simply because he’s isolated from the rest of us and doing his rehab on his own.”

Beebe will host a scrimmage game with Harding Academy in two weeks before opening the regular season at Greenbrier on Aug. 31. With 100 percent of the offense and defense already installed, the remainder of fall camp comes down to resilience for the Badgers.

“At this point, we basically have everything in on both sides of the ball,” Shannon said. “It now just becomes repetition – getting better at what we do. Even though we’ve been running the same plays and working the same defense from February until now, you never get in enough reps.

“We’re to the point now where we’re just working on mental toughness – the heat and the long practices, and just trying to toughen them up.”