By Rob Patrick
It’s the dog days. The grind has begun. After weeks of practicing, with the start of school and still[more] six days of practice before competition against a hostile foe, the Bryant Hornets football team hit a bit of a lull on Tuesday afternoon.
“The second-day-of-school blues,” stated Hornets head coach Paul Calley, “draggin’ around. Of course, we haven’t practiced out in the heat, not in over 100-degree temperatures. We’ve been practicing in the morning and in the evening when it’s cooler. That’s got a lot to do with it. But it’s got our spirits down a little bit, feeling sorry for ourselves. We’ve got to get over that in a hurry.
“Also, having so many inexperienced players,” he added. “We’ve got four guys that saw the field last year in varsity action for a lot of time. Those guys are leaders but we’ve got to have some other guys step up.”
The Hornets host the Pine Bluff Zebras in a pre-season scrimmage on Monday, Aug. 22. The Bryant freshman team will take the field at 5:30 with the Hornets varsity to follow.
Calley said, however, the Zebras are not quite on the radar yet.
“We’re still trying to teach,” he explained. “We’re still having to stop and slow down sometimes. There’s just so much inexperience and there’s so much taken for granted.
“The good thing is that these guys got to practice against one of the best teams in the state last year on both sides of the ball,” the coach noted. “The bad thing is that those guys aren’t here anymore and they’re practicing against each other and we’re not as good as we think we are.”
That’s where the scrimmage with Pine Bluff comes in.
“Like I told them, we won’t know until we see Pine Bluff on Monday night and they take it to us and they’re being super physical and they’re getting up in our grill,” Calley asserted. “Then we’ll know and we’ll realize that we have to take it up a notch. That and just getting closer to a game.”
The opener is Friday, Sept. 2, the renewal of the rivalry with the Benton Panthers at War Memorial Stadium in the Salt Bowl.
“It’s tough to be out here practicing every day and not getting to play (a game),” Calley acknowledged. “The game’s what you look forward to and right now, that’s a long way down the line to these guys. But it’ll be here before you know it though and we can’t waste any time.”
The coach figures to put a little more life in his team on Wednesday by matching up the first team on offense against the first team on defense a little more.
“We’ll go back to some more ones versus ones like we were doing during two-a-days, where we were going pretty fast,” he said. “We’re going to get them out here in the heat and we’re going to push them a little bit and see what they’ve got.”
That’ll be not only to challenge them but to check conditioning.
“They need to know what kind of shape they’re in,” Calley stated. “Like I told them, I can keep them out here and run them after practice until their tongues drag but that’s not going to get them in shape. It’s going to take practicing hard every play, pushing themselves every play, not taking a play off, not walking around. And they don’t seem to realize it yet.”