Leader Blues

Friday, August 08, 2008

SPORTS>> Jackrabbit turnout high

Leader sportswriter

No surprises so far.

Respectable numbers and a ton of returning starters highlighted the first week of practice for the Lonoke Jackrabbits. The Jackrabbits began two-a-days on Monday, with three days of practices in shorts before adding pads on Thursday.

A total of 51 players turned out for the fall camp, which was the number expected by head coach Jeff Jones and the LHS football staff. The class numbers break up pretty even, with 16 seniors, 19 juniors and 16 sophomores.

“Everyone is back that we expected to be back,” Jones said. “We’re holding at that number, so that’s pretty good numbers for Lonoke.”

Although Monday was the first official day of practice, the Jackrabbits have been busy preparing most of the summer, with weight training for the linemen, along with team running and reviews of fundamentals.

“We were in decent condition going in,” Jones said, “because of all the summer work we put in. We had a great weight room turnout. We also did football technique and fundamentals two days a week, as well as running.

“We also went to 7-on-7 tournaments during the summer, and went to one team camp at Springdale, so we felt like we were in great shape coming in.”

Lonoke picked back up on that theme on Monday. Being ahead of the game conditioning-wise meant there was ample time to focus on individual strengths and weaknesses, something Jones said will be beneficial down the road.

“We had two great days Monday and Tuesday,” Jones said. “We did a lot of fundamentals as well as conditioning, and we did a lot of individual work. It was a really good start to our fall camp.”

With a total of 17 returning starters (9 offense/8 defense), the Jackrabbits are a preseason favorite to win the 2-4A Conference by statewide publication Hooten’s Arkansas Football.

Jones said that it’s not just the numbers, experience and depth his team will be relying on this season, but a more aggressive mindset as well.

“The guys that we expected to hit hard came out and hit hard,” Jones said. “We’re not near where we need to be, but at this early point in the season, we’re making the daily progress that we need to. We really have been working on our physicality, that’s one thing we’ve been trying to up since I came here.

“I think we’re going to be the type of physical football team that we want this year.”