After five long months, the Shoemaker Grey Wolves are back on the hunt. But this time, they want more than just a playoff appearance.
The Grey Wolves began spring football practice on Monday to prepare for the 2014 season.
“We’re just ready to get it started,” Shoemaker head football coach Channon Hall said. “It’s a very exciting time of the year trying to get this thing put together.”
Shoemaker had its best season in school history last year after going 7-4, finishing third in District 8-5A and making it into the playoffs.
The UIL allows Class 4A and 5A teams to have 18 spring football practices. They begin fall practice during the second Monday of August.
Now, the Grey Wolves look to take the next step.
“We know that we’ve got to put in more work than we put in last year and know that some of the teams we played are going to be better this year,” junior linebacker Teneak Hall said. “We got in there and worked hard in the offseason. We decided that’s what we have to do to get past the first round this year.”
The Shoemaker varsity and junior varsity squads got after it again with pads popping, whistles blowing and passes being thrown on Monday.
Teneak has been looking forward to this for months. The junior was one of the top members of the Grey Wolves defense last season and looks to have one final great season as a senior this fall.
“As soon as that clock hit 0:00, I shed a couple of tears, I waited a couple of days, but that Monday we started offseason,” Teneak said. “I said, hey, it’s time to step up.”
Some of the happiest members of the team on Monday were the offensive linemen, defensive linemen and linebackers. These groups were ready to go from the opening drill.
“Practice is intense because you get to go out there, hit somebody and get your pads on since it’s been forever,” Shoemaker center Matt Goulart said.
Spring football allows the coaching staff to see how much better players have gotten in the offseason and get a feel for where the players will fall in the depth chart.
“We’re trying to figure out who are the football players on the team,” Coach Hall said.
“From that point we’ll find out who our best 40 guys are, then we’re going to work toward seeing what the best 40 do well.”
One of the areas that the Grey Wolves should be solid in is the offensive and defensive lines.
All three interior offensive linemen, including Goulart, return as do six of the front seven on the team’s 3-4 defensive front.
Kendell Jones is one of those returners after winning the district newcomer of the year honor as a sophomore in 2013.
“It feels good to be back hitting, getting after it a little bit and learning the plays over and over,” Jones said.
Experience up front will be a key for the Grey Wolves who have to replace graduating seniors in the offensive skill positions and defensive backfield.
“We should know what to do and we should be helping the new guys out,” Goulart said.
Shoemaker wraps up spring football practice with a spring game on May 22 at the Shoemaker High School practice field.