File photo by Rick Nation
The Bryant Hornets football team wrapped up their second week of fall practice with their second day of contact work in full pads today.
“We got a little scrimmage time in Tuesday and a lot of scrimmage time in today,” said head coach Paul Calley, whose team is preparing for its pre-season scrimmage at Pulaski Academy on Aug. 26, and their season-opening battle with Benton in the annual Salt Bowl at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock on Friday, Sept. 5.
“I feel our first group on both sides of the ball have a really good understanding of what we’re trying to do,” he stated. “I don’t think we’re disciplined enough offensively or defensive. We’re still doing some little things wrong that we need to get corrected.
“I feel like a broken record. I say this every year but we need to be in a real, live game situation to truly evaluate where we are,” the coach asserted. “We’re jumping offsides, lining up offsides. We’re blowing assignments. We’re not following our rules offensively on our plays and we’re not where we’re supposed to be defensively on or stunts. We’re not reading our keys. That’s a thing where you need recognition to get better at. Really for our defense, we’re not give them, offensively, what they need to see.”
On Tuesday, the first day of pads for the team, it was probably the warmest day they’ve dealt with.
“We had to practice in the afternoon Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday so it was hotter,” Calley acknowledged. “We struggled a little bit at the end but this morning we came back full pads and we had a spirited practice. It was a lot cooler, which made it much better.
“We’re not in great shape,” he noted. “We ran eight plays with the ones and eight plays with the twos in three different sets today and I could tell by their body language, we’re not in great shape.
“We’ve still got a lot to work on.”
As far as personnel, Calley said both quarterbacks, senior Brandan Warner and junior Gunner Burks were performing well.
“They’ve both got a real good understanding of the offense,” he related. “They get people lined up and as hard as it is we still have a lot of busts on our alignment so our quarterbacks need to know where everybody’s supposed to be.”
One of the areas of concern entering the fall was wide receiver but Calley said it’s being shorn up.
“Performance-wise, we’re starting to establish some things,” he explained. “Our top four are Brushawn (Hunter), (Paul) Tierney, Evan Lee and probably Aaron Orender right now. I can see Austin Kelly and Jordan Gentry getting in the mix before it’s all said and done.”
The coach also talked about the secondary, saying, “We’ve moved (Steven) Murdock over to corner and he’s played fairly well. Then we moved Phillip Isom-Green from running back to safety and he has played really well. Jaelyn Jones, one of our other safeties, injured a hamstring and still hasn’t recovered. I thought Brenden Young looks good playing the run, with run support. He’s still not where he needs to be against the pass.”
Some other moves Calley and his coaches are looking at include a switch of Colin Chapdelaine from middle linebacker to weakside and bringing Devon Alpe into the middle.
“I thought that looked pretty good today during our scrimmage,” he said. “We still don’t have a solid back-up at mike. Devon Howard (recovering from a torn ACL) has not been cleared to play. We’re hoping to have him back by week four (conference).
“We got Mario Waits back in the mix (on the defensive line),” Calley continued. “(Devensive tackle) Cameron Murray is nursing a turf toe. It’s just been getting worse so we may have to hold him out a little bit next week.”
On the offensive side, the Hornets may be without tight end Zach Jackson due to an arm injury.
“That’ll hurt us in the long run especially,” the coach said. “Tight end is one of the toughest positions to play. We want to have two quality tight ends. We were also going to use him in emergency situations to back up on the defensive line.”
In addition, starting left guard Caleb McElyea has been hampered with a pulled groin.
“He’s been at practice but he hasn’t been able to participate in any live drills hardly,” the coach said.
With school starting on Monday, the Hornets will settle into their regular-season routine. They’re annual Fan Fair scrimmage will be held this Friday at approximately 7 p.m., following eighth grade, freshman and junior varsity scrimmages at 5:15, 6 and 6:30, respectively.