Coaches enjoy players' first workout in pads
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

August 13, 2004 - Despite it being Friday the 13th, the first workout in full pads for the Sulphur Springs Wildcats was a hit in more ways than one.

Along with the first real hitting of the 2004 season, the Wildcats had a crisp practice, starting at 7 a.m. and ending at about 8:45. A 10-minute shower that hit about 30 minutes after practice began made the ball slippery, but it also continued a pattern of cool temperatures that has greeted the Wildcats this week.

Despite some dropped passes and slips in the wet grass, head coach Brad Turner was satisfied with the way the Wildcats looked after suiting out.

"It was good. When you move from shorts to pads, there's always a hitch in there. When you're blocking and stuff in shorts, it's pretty easy," Turner said. "You have to make an adjustment when you get into pads. We didn't catch the ball as good because they're not used to the shoulder pads; we didn't throw it quite as good. You've just got to get used to the pads, that part of it.

"We had some pretty good hits and made some pretty good plays."

The Wildcats don't do a lot of full-speed hitting in their practices because of the risk of injury, but they do put pads on each other during defensive drills, and the defenders wrap up the ball carriers during scrimmage sessions.

"So far, so good. My biggest thing is I don't want to get anybody hurt," Turner said. "I don't like seeing people getting cut and going down and rolled up in a pile. That's part of it, but I don't like seeing it in practice.

"We're going to try to be as safe as we can, but we've got to start working on blocking and tackling now that we're in pads, and that's what we're going to do."

The team is scheduled to practice again in pads from 6-8 p.m. today, take photos at Gerald Prim Stadium beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday, then Turner will give the team the rest of the weekend off. They will return on Monday after school, preparing for next Friday's scrimmage at Whitehouse.

One of the good things Turner saw in full pads was the work of the starting offensive line: center Jacob Jenkins, guards Cole Strawn, Zack Attaway and Chris Berry, and tackles Jose Vargas and Wes Woods. Only one starter, Woods, returns from last season, but the coach said the unit is molding together.

"I was impressed with our first offensive line from what I saw," Turner said. "In the team segment, they did good. This cooler weather has helped them more than anybody. I'm sure it's going to warm up, but it's nice to get a lot of this out of the way and get them back used to full pads without it being 100 degrees.

"I thought I needed to break out a warm-up suit this morning, but I just can't do it in August. I was cold sitting out there shivering this morning when it was raining."

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