Tuesday, August 13, 2013

SPORTS STORY>>Head coach is happy with Jackrabbits’ improvement

Leader sportswriter

The countdown to the start of the 2013 high school football season has entered its second week for the Lonoke Jackrabbits. The Jackrabbits opened their second week of fall camp with their annual media day for team and individual pictures followed by a morning practice.

Week two is especially trying for coaches around the state with the added hassle of teacher workshops on top of daily practice. Head coach Doug Bost said the team will go with four-hour sessions through Thursday before the length of practice time is shortened. Bost was pleased with the progress made in the first week.

“It got better Thursday and Friday,” Bost said. “We got to put the shoulder pads on, got everything done on offense Thursday, and Friday, just brushed up on some things. Defense, we were able to pick it up a little bit speed wise since we had the shoulder pads on. From where we were Monday and Tuesday to where we ended up, we were pleased as a coaching staff.”

The second week also means added focus on defense now that full contact is allowed on the practice field. The coaching staff got the opportunity to evaluate talent on the offensive side last week, and with all of the offense installed through the spring and summer, the focus can turn to defense. Some of the returners on defense are familiar faces, only in different spots.

Junior Chandler Elmore started at cornerback from the second game on last season at a light 137 pounds. He expressed interest to play outside linebacker to which Bost challenged him to bulk up, which is exactly what he did. Elmore, who holds a 4.0 GPA in the classroom, has shown just as much dedication to football over the past 12 months.

“He got in the offseason, hit the weight rooms, shakes, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches,” Bost said. “He gained 55 pounds. He’s up to 195 pounds, and he’s going to play outside linebacker now. He’s faster. He’s down to a low 4.6, and he’s the best we have technique wise. He calls out our coverages and secondaries, so we’re really pleased with how he’s coming along.”

The plan for the remainder of the week is to continue reviewing offensive plays while picking up the intensity with full contact on defense.

“We’ve got teacher meetings, so we can’t go as long,” Bost said. “I think Thursday’s really our last four-hour practice. We’ll be able to start hitting a little bit and go from there.”

The Jackrabbits will not open the season until Sept. 6 at Star City, making their fall practice stretch nearly five weeks.

With the offense already in place and much of the leg work done defensively, Bost said part of the battle in fall camp is warding off monotony.

“It does, (get difficult to stay focused only practicing for a month) especially this year with the first game not being until after Labor Day,” Bost said. “When you start Aug. 2, yes, it does go for a long time. When Arkansas (Activities Association) said we can do team camps and do 7-on-7, everybody in the state does that now.

“A few years ago, when it came August, you were teaching from scratch. Now, that’s already in, so you’re just brushing up and refreshing stuff. It does get long, and there are times you cut practice down just to change things up so the kids don’t get into a rut of doing the same thing over and over.”