By Evan Ren
Killeen Daily Herald
Given the option having spring practice or an extra week of preparation just prior to the season, Killeen football coach Sam Jones found the decision easy.
"I'd rather have 18 days in the spring when it's cool than an extra week in the summer when it's hot," he said. "Plus it gives you a chance to put the pads on.
"If you don't have spring practice, you have to go almost nine months without putting on the pads and that's quite a while."
Jones made the most of the extra time, putting the Kangaroos through a series of what he called "upbeat" workouts, designed to be productive, yet fun.
The Roos concluded spring practice on Tuesday with an intrasquad scrimmage, with the White team defeating the Maroon, 27-21.
"I thought we grew up, which is what the spring is all about," Jones said. "That's part of the reason for us having spring training, because it's like having an extra season."
Jones was encouraged by several things during the scrimmage, not the least of which was the effort of quarterback Alijawon White, who completed 12 of 22 passes for 200 yards and two touchdowns.
Playing for both teams, White also rushed for 121 yards on just eight carries for another score. Jordan Ramos was effective behind center as well, hitting 10 of 22 throws for 168 yards and a TD.
Among the most active targets was receiver Anthony Ezell, who hauled in 179 yards on nine receptions for two touchdowns. Levi Fuson snared three passes for 40 yards and a TD, while Justin Ross and T.J. Hill caught three each for 38 and 23 yards, respectively.
Freshman Omar Craddock was the biggest producer among the Roos' running backs, gaining 60 yards on six carries with one score.
"We started off with some varsity players and some JV players, but by the end of (spring practice) you could see that people had changed and developed," Jones said. "Now it all depends on how we do during 7-on-7 this summer.
"The receivers have to keep working and the quarterbacks have to keep throwing."
Jones was pleased with the effort of the offensive line as well, spearheaded by the 6-foot-1, 270-pound William Slade, Jonathan Bush (6-5, 275) and Rhonte Scales (6-5, 245). Supplemented by Tyron Jackson and Nicolas Summerfield, the offensive front is expected by the Roo coaching staff to be a team strength.
Other players who impressed Jones this spring included defensive backs James Biven and Jordan Smith, defensive linemen Kentrail Davis, Demetrius Daniels and Ryan McCloud, linebackers Justin Harkness and Chris Gambles, and running back Nicholas Norman.
"Overall, it went great and we did what we needed to do," Jones said. "I think we got out of spring what we wanted and it was definitely productive."
n ROO NOTES – Killeen will open 7-on-7 action on June 1 when it faces Copperas Cove on the road. On June 8, the Roos will face Ellison at EHS, and will face Midway in Hewitt two days later. ... The Roos' regular season schedule will begin with Ellison on Sept.1 at Leo Buckley Stadium, after which they will face Shoemaker and Harker Heights in successive weeks at the same locale. A trip to Pflugerville Connally comes on Sept. 22, followed by a home date with Boerne (Sept. 29). Killeen will be idle on Oct. 6, after which it will open District 16-4A play at home against Midway. Brownwood (Oct. 20, at Buckley), Waco (Oct. 27, at Waco) Copperas Cove (Nov. 2, at Buckley) and Waco University (Nov. 10 at Waco) round out a regular season schedule that some feel will be the most challenging the Roos have faced in years. "We'll probably have one of the tougher schedules in the state of Texas," Jones said. "It's definitely not soft by any means, so the spring was important for us, toughness-wise." ... Killeen will have one scrimmage prior to the season, Aug. 25 against Leander at Buckley.
Contact Evan Ren at firstname.lastname@example.org