Harker Heights head coach Jerry Edwards has been very pleased with his team in the first four days of fall practice.
He even said his Knights have been a bit further along than he had hoped for entering camp.
But there’s only so much you can do in shorts and T-shirts. Today, the pads go on for good, and Heights, for one, can’t wait to get on the field in full pads.
“What did coach say? That’s how you separate the contenders from the pretenders,” linebacker Ryan Turck said. “That’s what football’s made of right there, the pads. It separates football from all the sports, basketball, baseball.
“Football is played with pads on,” said Edwards. “It’s a full-contact sport, and it’s hard to get that look in T-shirts and shorts. They’re taking the right steps and running the right routes and covering the right guys, but let’s see if you can do it with pads on.”
Defenders like Turck were particularly excited, as they look to improve a unit that allowed nearly 40 points per game last season.
But that defense was young, and this edition of the Knight defense returns eight starters.
The experience of playing together, and in Edwards’ system for a year, has been invaluable, they said.
“I would say that we’re basically all brothers,” Turck said. “We all know what someone’s tendencies are like. I know what (Stephon) Primous’ tendencies are, I know what Omar Johnson’s tendencies are.”
“We kind of learned from each other from last year,” Johnson added. “We grew on each other, and basically now we’re just bringing in new players and we’re just teaching them basically what Coach Edwards taught us last year — to stick together, stay with that team, that family and you can conquer anything.”
Now, with the pads on, it is time for the defense to prove it as Edwards said he and his staff could truly evaluate the players on the field now.
“Let’s make sure that we’re getting our blocks, that we’re getting off blocks defensively, that we’re able to block the outside linebacker, that we’re able to break up a pass with our pads on,” Edwards said.
Edwards said he would be looking at the offensive and defensive lines in particular when the pads come on today.
Both were points of emphasis in the offseason and will continue to be leading up to the season.
And with Heights’ scrimmage against New Braunfels Canyon a week from today, the Knights certainly don’t lack urgency.
And that sense of urgency will only be heightened with the first practice in full pads today.
“We’ve got New Braunfels Canyon on Friday, so we’ve got today and Saturday and four days next week to get really polished,” Edwards said. “But we want to be game ready Thursday when we walk off the field because Friday morning we scrimmage New Braunfels Canyon.”