Leader Blues

Monday, August 07, 2006

SPORTS >> Badgers lean on seniors

IN SHORT: The young team will have to rely on some of its underclassmen for several starting positions this season.

Leader sports writer

The Beebe Badgers took to the practice field behind Bro Erwin Stadium for the opening week of summer practice this week. The Badgers have traditionally held their workouts in the late evening, but decided to make the change to early morning practices for this year.

Head coach Cam Prock says that heat was a factor in the decision to move the time of the practices, but also says he has found that the coaching staff has been able to get a little more out of the players on a daily basis with the change to the A.M. workouts.

“It’s been a little warm, being the first of August, but it seems like maybe we’re getting a little more rest by practicing in the mornings,” Prock said. “You have all afternoon and night to recuperate. Plus, when we were practicing at night, sometimes it would still be 98 degrees at six or seven o’clock, so heat did play a factor.”

The team has spent some time in the weight room during the first week of practice, but Prock says the main conditioning focus has been working on the players’ flexibility, trying to thwart off potential injuries that can put a team behind in preparation for a new season.

“We’ve spent some time in the weight room,” Prock said. “But this time of year, they get so sore that we really stretch them out more than anything. We’ve never tried to get them completely in shape the first week, we mainly try to get them more flexible and get them used to it. Fact is, we will probably be doing a lot more conditioning in three weeks than we are right now.”

The Badgers will be a little light in the senior department this year with only seven returning 12th graders, but six of those seven saw plenty of playing time last year as starters. Prock is counting on the small group to be very instrumental in the scheme of things, with many of the seniors filling out the skill positions.

Jared Mathis wowed many unsuspecting people in the opening games of the 2005 season. Mathis started at quarterback for the first three games last year in place of then starting quarterback Wes Lamb, and showed a good ability at scrambling, as well as managing the pass.

Although Beebe will not be packed out with seniors in the offensive backfield as last year, Mathis will have experienced help with running back Robbie Puckett. Among other seniors with starting experience, Drake Widener will return at offensive lineman/linebacker, with John Breshears and Danny Miller returning to the offensive and defensive lines.

A total of 47 players showed up for the opening week, with sophomores making up over half the numbers. Prock says he’s not concerned with having a young team, as long as he can find the right player for each available spot.

“It doesn’t matter,” Prock said. “We’re just going to put our best guys out there, and here we go. All you can do is play what you got, and that’s it. I’m not too concerned with only having seven seniors, it’s a low number for us, but the ones we have left are good kids, and I expect them to be good leaders for us.”

The Badgers will scrimmage against Harding Academy on August 22 at First Security Stadium in Searcy. The 2006 season will get underway for Beebe on September 1 with an away game against Greenbrier.