Wildcats put on pads for first time this season

By BOBBY "BUTCH" BURNEY | News-Telegram Sports Editor

Aug. 10, 2007 - Like moths drawn to a flame, cars and spectators started lining up Friday morning at the James Cameron Practice Fields.

That's what happens when the pads finally come on.

The Sulphur Springs Wildcats donned full pads for the first time this season, and the familiar popping sound filled the air as the JV and varsity teams scrimmaged the final hour of Friday morning's practice.

The Wildcats didn't engage in the Hamburger Drill, Blood Alley, Wildcat Maker or the various other names given to the tackling drills that sometimes accompany the first day in pads. But, head coach Greg Owens said that will be coming later.

Today, he wanted for the players to get accustomed to the pads. That much as accomplished, though Owens wanted to see a little more.

"There was a little less emotion than we wanted out here today," Owens said. "I think that's probably some of the youth we have on our team. We'd like to see a little more emotion out of them. But, it's a typical first day. It's settling in your pads and all that.

"I know people around here are used to seeing Blood Alley and things like that. I just don't do that on the first day. I don't want to throw them into that situation when they're not used to being in pads. Next week, we'll start doing some of that, and that will get our energy level up."

In the scrimmage part of the practice, it appeared that the defense was ahead of the offense, which is typical in early practices. The varsity first string offense scored a touchdown against the defense, but the defense came up with two interceptions and stopped the offense on three straight three-and-out possessions as well.

"I want us to do better offensively, execute a little better," Owens said. "Some of these linemen, it's the first time to see it live, and we've got some pretty good D-linemen coming at them.

"Defensively, I thought we flew around pretty good. The purpose of the day really is to get adjusted to our pads, seeing what it's like live, flying around."

Another important aspect is that the coaches were able to film the scrimmage. They'll evaluate it this weekend, then show it to the players on Monday.

"Overall, it really wasn't a bad day. We got a lot accomplished today, and the big thing is we got it on film," the coach explained. "So now, we can grade that and evaluate and come back Monday and show them their film. Once they see that, they'll make improvements and those improvements will be great. I expect good things out of the Greenville scrimmage."

The Wildcats will travel to Greenville on Saturday, Aug. 18, to face the Lions in the first intersquad scrimmage of the season. The start times are tentatively set for varsity at 8 a.m. and JV/freshmen at 10:30 a.m.

In the interim, the Wildcats will get back to full pad practice each morning next week.

"Next Saturday will be here before we know it. Next week will be a hard week, at least the first three or four days, but we can really now start focus on the technique stuff we've been teaching. Now, they've got to do it," Owens said.

"Pads separate the men from the boys, too. There will be personnel changes and depth charts will start to change."

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