After four days of practicing in the afternoon heat, including a particularly torrid Tuesday, the Bryant Hornets football team wrapped up its practice schedule Friday before the start of the Fall 2015 semester on Monday, Aug. 17, in the morning and the cooler conditions contributed to a strong workout.
“Overall, it was the best practice of the camp so far,” declared head coach Paul Calley. “I think the intensity’s there, the effort’s there, the execution is getting there. If we can keep everybody healthy, I like the chances.
“We had four very good early practices last week,” he noted. “We had to go in the afternoon this week and it was a lot different. We’ve got kids under-weight. We’ve got guys affected by the heat. It was hit and miss several days. We had to take the pads off, had to go into the shade, into the air (conditioning).
“The day (Monday, Aug. 10) that we feared it was going to be bad, wasn’t as bad as we feared it would be,” he recalled. “The next day was worse and it wasn’t supposed to be as bad.”
The Hornets have gotten through fall practice without many major injuries but, earlier this week, sophomore Ray Davis tore his Achilles tendon.
“Fingers crossed, we’ve been relatively healthy,” Calley mentioned. “But that’s a 6-4, 320-pound defensive tackle.”
With an afternoon practice on Thursday and a morning practice on Friday, Calley said they backed off a little during that final afternoon workout.
“The first hour we dedicated to special teams,” he related. “So we went special teams yesterday full pads, changed into shorts, came back out and finished our team practice.
“(Friday) we went straight into offense/defense, individual then into team versus scout,” he continued. “We went against Benton (schemes) with our scout team offensively and defensively then we went ones versus ones, twos versus twos, went back ones versus ones, twos versus twos then went back against Benton. So we faced two totally different defenses and we did a pretty good job against it.
“Offensively, we’re a little bit different than what our defense has been seeing, than Benton’s going to show,” the coach explained. “I thought, offensively, we executed very well today.”
Calley said senior quarterback Gunnar Burks looked particularly sharp.
Turning to the defense, he said, “The main thing I wanted to see is the type of shape they were in. I think Benton’s first drive last year was 14 plays and we were kind of gassed after that. I wanted to get a look at them. We went about 14, 15 plays. And they weren’t too bad. We were hurrying it up. But it was cool. It felt great this morning.”
Starting Monday, a change from block schedule to a traditional seven-period day will alter the practice and preparation routine as it will for every athletic team and coaching staff this year.
“It’s going to be totally different,” Calley acknowledged as he went into a staff meeting to, among other things, discuss the changes. “We may just go ahead and start our schedule Monday like it’s going to be game week just to see, just to try to get a feel for it and see how it’s going to affect us. Monday’s going to be a bad practice anyway. It’s the first day of school. That’s never, ever a good practice.”
The Hornets, along with the freshman team and the eighth grade teams from both Bryant and Bethel Middle Schools will be participating in the annual Blue-White Fanfare football scrimmage on Friday, Aug. 21, at Bryant Stadium. The eighth grade scrimmage will begin at 5:15 p.m., followed at 6 by the freshman scrimmage. At 6:30, the Hornets JV will scrimmage with the varsity scrimmage scheduled to start at 7.
Gates will open at 4:30 p.m. Admission is $3 with no school district passes accepted; only Arkansas Activities Association passes. Concessions will be available.