With the spring season behind them, Killeen ISD and Copperas Cove high schools now turn their focus to the last stretch of the offseason — summer.
“We’ve put in a good offseason and good spring practices,” said Harker Height head coach Jerry Edwards. “No. 1, we came out healthy, which is a blessing in itself.”
All area coaches agree that ending the spring season with minimal injuries is always the main goal.
While coaches use the spring to gauge the upcoming talent, the continued work in the summer can make all the difference when the teams hit the field in the fall.
The Kangaroos may have been playing against one another, but emotions ran high during the annual Maroon and White Game.
“You have to play this game with some emotion,” said Roos head coach Neil Searcy. “It’s meant to be played with emotion, but I was really excited about the atmosphere — how the kids prepared for the game, how they approached the game and the way they played.”
Overall, Searcy was impressed with the work he saw on both sides of the ball at the conclusion of spring practices.
“Seeing them make plays on offense and make great stops on defense split up the way they were, it was great,” Searcy said. “It’s pretty impressive because we really feel like when we get them together — our offense and our defense — we’ll have something special.”
Killeen continues to look strong in the running game led by rising junior Kadarius Marshall, the running back who is coming off a strong 2018 season capped off with a unanimous vote for District 12-6A Newcomer of the Year.
Marshall totalled 1,237 yards and 11 touchdowns on 165 carries.
Searcy noted the consistency at quarterback with James Terry returning for his senior year, along with Ta’Shoyn Johnson leading the defense.
“That’s just a few of the guys,” Searcy said. “But I’m really pleased with the efforts of the whole team.”
The Grey Wolves had talent spread among both the Navy and White teams in their spring football game as they drafted players the Tuesday prior to the game.
“There was a lot of smack talk throughout the week,” head coach Toby Foreman said. “But I’m extremely pleased with all we accomplished.”
The score was even throughout most of the game and emotions ran high as the clock ran down, but the opportunity to partake in the game was a privilege Foreman’s athletes had to earn.
“We had 109 guys dressed out today,” he noted. “We had 19 that we didn’t allow to dress out either because of their academic or their attitudes in the classroom.
“But these guys did exactly what we asked them to do and it was a very competitive contest.”
While the Navy team pulled out a 21-20 win over the White team, Foreman hopes to see the excitement on the field continue to fuel the Wolves into the summer.
“Our attendance in the summertime needs to be 90% or more,” he said, noting last summer’s conditioning was close to reaching that goal. “I feel like we have leaders on this team that will push us over the edge and that’s going to be the difference when we show up in August.
“I expect these guys to be ready to roll and ready to go scrimmage Kerrville Tivy and ready to go play San Angelo Central.”
Those seniors Foreman has seen step up this spring include Morgan Anderson, Thomas Devoux, Pharoah Tranham and Devin Owens.
“Those four guys, I feel like have really settled into their positions as leaders on the team,” Foreman said.
Across town, head coach Todd Wright has also seen his next senior class begin to step up and lead the Eagles on the field.
On the offensive line, Kaleb Luna and Everitt Rogers have begun to take charge while Isaiah Grant is leading the way in the secondary.
Kellen Gardner and Stacy Brown are another two Wright has taken notice of.
“We’ve got seniors that will be taking over in every area,” Wright said. “But we’re still growing and we still have to get better, but we have seniors at every position.”
One area the Eagles will continue to use the summer to work on is adding depth to special teams, and more specifically, a kicker.
“Punting, we’ll be fine,” Wright said. “But kickoffs and good old-fashioned extra points is something we have to get better at.”
As Ellison prepares to shift its attention to summer workouts, the upcoming senior class is continuing to find its stride as leaders on the team get the underclassmen ready for what’s ahead in the fall.
“Hearing them communicating is nice,” Wright said of his seniors. “Now they’re talking about what they’re seeing and making adjustments far faster.”
The Knights are happy to close out the spring injury-free.
“Last year we were bit with the injury bug,” Edwards said. “So this year, to get through spring with no significant injuries is big for us and our program.
“We’re young kids, so this is a chance for us to grow up in the offseason.”
Not only are the Knights focusing on growing up, but they’ve turned their focus on getting back to what has worked for them in the past.
“We talked a lot about our 2016 team in the offseason,” Edwards said. “We kind of said, hey guys, this is what it takes and these are the guys who have done it before so this is what we’ve got to do.”
Harker Heights finished the 2016 season with a record of 7-4 and 3-3 in District 8-6A play, advancing to the playoffs before being eliminated by Duncanville in the bi-district round.
“We’ve been talking about our recipe for success,” Edwards explained. “And we’ve been adding ingredients all year, whether that be showing up in the morning for lifts, running track, doing 7-on-7, doing our strength — those are the ingredients we need to be successful and build our recipe of success.”
Head coach Jack Alvarez measures leadership at the end of a season, but he’s seen maturity and growth among the Bulldawgs over the spring season.
“I’ve seen a lot of positive things from them,” Alvarez said. “But just like the weight room, you have to consistently work on your leadership because the more people who lead, the better the team’s going to be.
“But they’re a fun group to be around, I think they’re hungry to win and play at a high level, and anytime your kids are willing to make a great effort it’s always fun.”
Those who have stepped up include junior Russel Cochran, seniors Aaron Shanahan and Jahmeel Rice.
One new face among the Dawgs made his presence known at the annual Blue and White game, transfer Malchai Lyons.
“He’s an explosive kid,” Alvarez said. “He’s definitely in our top three or four running backs right now.
“I’ve got two of them hurt, one with a wrist and one with a leg, but nothing that’s going to be an issue come the fall. Once we have four guys we can rotate in and out, I think we’re going to be good.”
5A AND 6A SCHOOLS WITH SPRING TRAINING
- Aug. 12 — First day of conditioning
- Aug. 17 — First day of full contact
- Aug. 22 — First scrimmage
- Aug. 29-31 — Regular season begins