Hornets ‘better than expected’ during first two days of spring practice

It's times like this that make the indoor practice facility at Bryant High School Fieldhouse so valuable. With more rain on an already soggy practice field, the Bryant Hornets football team has been able to start the two weeks of spring workouts in pads with sure footing though they were limited with what they could do in the passing game.

Tuesday, head coach Paul Calley assessed the first two days of work including some limited scrimmaging on Tuesday.

"It went better than I expected," he stated. "We're limited, but the intensity's been there, the enthusiasm's there."[more]

With five starters back on offense — Kaleb Burns on the offensive line, Chris Rycraw at running back, Jimi Easterling at quarterback, and receivers Chris Arnold and Brandon Parish — and just three on defense — Josh Hampton on the line and Logan Garland and Tanner Tolbert in the secondary — it figured that the offense might have an edge coming in but Calley was pleasantly surprised by the defense. "It's really a lot farther along than what I thought," he stated. "We haven't had to test them with the deep ball yet because we don't have the room, but as far as playing the run, taking care of run responsibilities, they've done a real good job."

With only Burns back on the offensive line, that is an area Calley is watching for development. "We're missing an assignment here and there that causes us to have a bad play but, for the most part, we're executing," he said. "We're getting there.

"We've added another running back in James Jones to kind of compliment Rycraw," the coach continued. "He's got good vision, good balance, a little more size. He's more of a straight-ahead runner. He's going to help us."

He added he also liked what he saw from Marcus Harris at fullback.

"Jimi's throwing the ball well," Calley said of Easterling who is back after a foot injury ended his season prematurely last fall. "We've still got to work on our timing on our screens.

"We've been pleased with the effort and how far we've come," he summarized. "In January, I never thought we would be at the point we're at right now. We've made a lot of strides in the weight room, gotten faster throughout off-season. We're really pleased with what we've seen so far."

Being in full pads for the first time on Tuesday, Calley noted that the execution wasn't as crisp as Monday but that wasn't unexpected.

"We're going to take it a little easier today, watch the film of what we did yesterday, try to correct some mistakes," he said. "I wanted to go outside today but the field was still under water yesterday. Probably what we'll do today is more group work, have the film session offensively and defensively, and correct the mistakes that we made in the scrimmage."

Because the workouts have been inside, Calley mentioned, "We got some work for our young guys. We didn't expect to get a lot of work done with them but, since we can't get outside, we got a good hour of work with them yesterday. And they're a lot more physical than what I expected. We've still got a lot of learning to do and they have to understand the game better and what we're trying to accomplish but, I told them, 'You guys aren't scared. You're physical and the effort's there and with that, we can get better.'"

Workouts will continue through Friday then on Monday through Thursday next week. There will be no formal spring game this year because of the timing (Memorial Day weekend begins Friday) and the desire to avoid injuries.


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