By Rob Patrick
Every year, just about every high school football team has to re-tool in some area. Few start all[more] underclassmen and get every one of them back the next year.
For most of the 2010 conference championship season, the Bryant Hornets started 18 seniors in the 22 positions so there’s more than a little re-tooling to be done. In fact, it’s been awhile since the Hornets have taken the field with so little starting experience.
On Monday, many of them will start the process of gaining what they lack when the Hornets take on the Pine Bluff Zebras in a pre-season scrimmage at Bryant Stadium. The evening will begin with the freshman teams’ scrimmage at 5:30 p.m. The varsity teams will take the field around 6:30.
The teams will begin with a regulation half with the starters. Kickoff and kickoff returns will be live. All punts will be fair catches with no returns. There will be no rush on punts, extra points or field goal attempts.
After that, each teams’ second teams will scrimmage for 20 plays (10 apiece on offense) then the third team players will take the field for 20 plays (10 on each side of the ball as well).
The scrimmage comes at a good time, said Hornets head coach Paul Calley, who cut down on the team’s practice time on Friday.
“I determined (Thursday) that in order for us to improve any more, we’ve got to play somebody other than ourselves,” he declared. “We start out (practice) spirited, go through the motions — this group is real young. They don’t understand the importance of doing everything right in practice; the proper steps, the proper angles, the proper spacing, the proper concentration.
“It got to a point (Thursday), we couldn’t even get a snap,” he related. “And, if we did, we were jumping offsides, we had receivers covered up, couldn’t get our alignment right. I could hear some yelling down on the defensive end too. It wasn’t good.”
Part of that lack of concentration, Calley allowed, has been the different schedule the team has been on.
“Usually we start school at midweek,” he explained. “So we’d have a couple of lackluster practices, have a weekend off then get back to it. But this week, we started school on Monday and it seems like one of the longest weeks in history, for the coaches as well as the kids.
“We’ve been practicing a long time,” the coach acknowledged. “I can fault them but I’ve been where they are and it’s difficult to put in all that time without playing a game.”
Friday, Calley said, the team did a lot of cleaning, sprucing up the locker rooms, the indoor practice facility, the area around the field.
“We got everything ready for Monday,” he said. “And we had some walk-throughs, talked about our script, what we’re going to be running, personnel issues and things like that. I just decided I’d rather have the guys get their legs under them and be fully hydrated and anticipate getting to play.”
The Hornets’ official season opener is Friday, Sept. 2, against Benton in the annual Salt Bowl.