Leader Blues

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

SPORTS >> Jackrabbits green but practicing hard

By JASON KING
Leader sports writer

The Lonoke Jackrabbits had their second day of spring practice in pads on Monday afternoon after a late start last Friday. The ‘Rabbits chose to wait until Friday due to several players being involved with the state track meet last Wednesday at Dardanelle.

The spring practices have been the first opportunity for new head coach Jeff Jones to see his team work out in full pads. The new head ‘Rabbit has liked what he has seen so far in the opening days of spring workouts.

“I appreciate the effort from these guys,” Jones said. “We have a young bunch, not many of them have seen a lot of time on Friday nights. They have all showed up hungry, and they are giving it everything they’ve got.”

The majority of Monday’s practice was spent with the team split up into two groups practicing in opposite directions on the practice field. One squad worked on running plays, while the other went through a series of passing drills. After a brief rest, the coaching staff put the whole team back into one unit and ran a combination of running and passing drills together.
Jones is confident that the team will adapt to the new style of offense he is bringing in. Although two days is not enough time for a complete evaluation, he says he has no doubts in the team’s abilities.

“They’ll get the hang of this,” Jones said. “They are all excited and ready to go. You always have the next guy waiting in line to be the next starter and get his turn. “Ideally, we want to leave these practices with an idea of who’s going to be where. We want to know which guys are going to work in what positions.”

Although the ‘Rabbits have been a run-oriented team traditionally, Jones hopes to use more of the spread formation in the offense. That is not to say they will not go to the ground at all. In fact, much of the early practices have focused on gaining yards on the ground.

“These practices are kind of an introduction to the offense,” Jones said. “We have been trying to get them used to this type of offense and to concentrate on our running game. Everything has gone pretty well so far, but we still have a lot of work to do.”
The Jackrabbits plan on working through the rest of the week before school dismisses for the summer.

The break will not be long, however, as Jones says the team will begin 7-on-7 summer football on June 5.

Lonoke will participate in the Monday night passing league, and expect to enter a number of 7-on-7 tournaments before the start of two-a-days on July 31.

With several of the starting skill position players from the ’05 team graduating this past week, it will be interesting to see who comes to the forefront for the upcoming season.

Last year, backup quarterback Josh Martin saw playing time in a number of the late-season games, and Duane Hood showed promise at the tailback position as a backup to Walter Ellis.

The ‘Rabbits will also move into a new conference this season. Lonoke will be a part of the 2AAAA Conference, which will include Heber Springs, Marianna, Mountain View, Stuttgart, Newport and Batesville Southside. Only Bald Knob will join the ‘Rabbits from the former 6AAA Conference in the new league.