With no spring football, Salado hasn’t had a chance to see many aspects of its team in game-like situations since last season ended.
But thanks to 7-on-7, that doesn’t quite apply to the skill positions.
The Eagles have been playing 7-on-7 since May and will attempt to qualify for state Friday.
But whether Salado qualifies for state or not, the Eagles have already seen plenty of positive signs while competing in the Georgetown league each Monday.
For starters, it has given Jacob Little a chance to join the competition for the starting quarterback role after he missed most of spring workouts while starting for the Eagles’ regional finalist baseball team.
Salado head coach Brent Graham said Little will get the first shot at the starting role after serving as the backup quarterback last season.
And while Little will have big shoes to fill from a leadership standpoint, the Eagle coaching staff believes he is more than capable of filling them.
“We’re excited for Jacob because he was a starter last year for us at wide receiver,” Graham said. “He knows the expectations of the quarterback position. He was our backup last year, so he knows how we operate.
“It’s good to have that experience coming back.”
But Graham was also impressed with the progress of Tyler Armstrong, who took more reps at quarterback with Little gone this spring and showcased his leadership abilities in the process.
“I think that Tyler is certainly a leader of our football team,” Graham said. “Just not only in his work ethic and what he does on a daily basis by leading by example, but I also think that they type of person that he is, the character that he has, it’s exactly what we need as a Salado athlete.”
Whoever wins the starting job will have plenty of viable targets to throw to as Graham said Jacob Quick, Ty Stewart, Coby Chambliss and Preston Payne have all looked good in 7-on-7 thus far.
Graham was particularly complimentary of Quick, who he said has blossomed heading into his senior year.
“He’s gotten a lot faster, his leaping ability, a lot of things have changed for him,” Graham said. “He’s really attacked the offseason and put a lot of hard work and effort into trying to get better. So, he’s going up and catching balls and doing a lot of great things at receiver.”
Ultimately, Graham said it will be on him and his staff to put the players in the best position to help the team, a process that he said is ongoing.
He also said it is a process that can change by the week.
“I’m a firm believer in that, in personnel and getting the right kids out there in the right spots,” Graham said. “So we’re going to do everything that we can and exhaust our efforts as a coaching staff to make sure that we have the right guys in the right spots to be successful.”
But it is also hard to evaluate a team that hasn’t put on pads yet this offseason.
That is why, despite the good signs he has seen in 7-on-7, Graham still can’t wait for the pads to go on later this summer when he can finally see the rest of his team in game-like situations.
“At the skill spot, it’s kind of easier to see when you don’t have pads on,” Graham said. “Just once it hits in the fall and we get pads on, it’s going to be fun to see those linemen, linebackers and those guys start to come into their own.”