Leader Blues

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

SPORTS>>Summer regimen has Beebe on target

Leader sportswriter

It’s back to business this August for the Beebe football Badgers.

The excitement over last year’s success with first-year coach and Badger alumnus John Shannon is evident in this year’s numbers, as 51 players reported for fall camp. Everyone stayed through the first week and showed steady improvement, which has Shannon excited about his team’s prospects entering the new 5A-Southeast Conference.

“The kids have been working real hard,” Shannon said. “It was hot the first few days and we pushed through the heat. The last half of the week was almost like a vacation, it cooled off so much. We’re kind of excited where we’re at right now.”

The Badgers are returning 14 seniors, 17 juniors and 20 sophomores. Of those, five starters return on offense and six are returning on defense. The coaching staff put a lot of responsibility on the players over the summer, which they got through with flying colors, Shannon said. He said the stringent summer workout schedule has them a little ahead of the game.

“We required our kids to get in 10 mandatory workouts this summer,” Shannon said. “We also went to one team camp up at UCA. Most of our kids got in 10-14 workouts this summer. We started the summer with about 55 kids, and 51 of them got their 10-plus workouts in. We feel pretty good where we’re at strength wise and conditioning wise.”

The experienced players have lived up to the expectations of Shannon and the Beebe coaching staff, and the only surprises have been positive ones.

“We had spring football, so we kind of already knew who our starters were going to be,” Shannon said. “But we have had some of our younger kids that were ninth-graders last year that have come out here for two-a-days, and you can physically see a difference in them. They’restronger and faster just from what we’ve done this summer.

“There hasn’t been a whole lot of surprises, but we’ve had a few young kids step up. So, if they don’t help us in the starting department, they can definitely help us in the depth department.”

Still, with all the strides that have been made in just over a week, Shannon said the special teams’ are not where they need to be this fall. The start of teacher workshops have moved both morning and afternoon practice sessions around, and put a squeeze on available time.

“Probably the thing that has hurt the most is that we’ve missed some times for our kickers to get out and practice kicking before practice both in the morning and in the afternoon,” Shannon said. “That’s one place where we feel that we’re kind of behind in right now, and it’s just from the standpoint that our practices have been cut because of the teacher’s meetings that we have to go to, so we’re having to work around that.”

The Badgers traditionally take the remainder of their media day off after taking pictures for the school and local media, but Monday’s media day was followed with a weight room workout and special teams practice to compensate for the tight practice time through the first week.

The Badgers will scrimmage at Searcy on Aug. 26 before opening the season at Greenbrier on Sept. 5.