Leader Blues

Monday, August 20, 2007

SPORTS >>Wildcat lineup set, final touches added

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

Everything is still going according to game plan for Harding Academy as they prepare for a Tuesday scrimmage at Jessieville. The third week of practice went off without a hitch for the Wildcats, as finishing touches were the primary focus. With all but one position with a definite starter in place, Harding Academy spent week three smoothing out the few rough edges.
Wildcats coach Tommy Shoemaker, now in his 11th year at Harding Academy, says the main focus of the coaching staff has been to make sure there are no loose ends before the trip to Jessieville.

“Mainly, we’ve been trying to take a few more looks at everyone we’re going to have in the scrimmage next week,” Shoemaker said. “Really, we’re polishing up and making sure that everyone knows where they’re supposed to be and what they’re supposed to be doing. We’ll know a lot more after the scrimmage. We will be able to figure out how much everyone knows.”

With a loaded team in a conference full of rebuilding squads, the Wildcats are poised to have an even easier run through the 2-3A Conference than last year’s undefeated regular-season team. Above anything else this season, Shoemaker wants his kids to stay healthy during the early stages of the season. “I feel good about it,” Shoemaker said. “There will always be some concerns after the scrimmage that we will have to fix, but for the most part, I feel like we’re in pretty good shape and ready to go. Obviously, you don’t want to get anybody hurt, but it will be different going up against someone else.”

The Thursday practice started out with individual drills. Aside from about six linemen working on blocking drills, the rest of the 37 players lined up for passing drills.

Starting junior quarterback Matt Lincoln and backup Seth Keese both looked good in the practice, airing out a number of long passes with pretty consistent accuracy and travel.

The receivers also had a good workout on Thursday, as all receivers and running backs took turns running post routes and clearout patterns during the three-and-a-half hour workout. There were few drops in the first 30 minutes of practice, nearly all of which were products of receivers not securing the ball before running.

Most of the starting positions have been settled with the exception of center, in which sophomores Matt Calhoun and Brandon Kutcher are still fighting for the anchor position.

Shoemaker says that decision may not be made until after next week’s scrimmage.

The Tuesday scrimmage at Jessieville precedes the season opener at Little Rock Christian.

The Wildcats started off the season with a win over the Warriors last year after a late fumble recovery in Christian territory that allowed a last minute touchdown by Harding Academy.

The momentum from that win seemed to carry over for the remainder of the year, a feat that Shoemaker and the Wildcats hope to repeat once again at the end of this month.