Contact Ahead: Wildcat practices take on different tone in preparation for full pad workout

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

Aug. 7, 2008 - Thursday's early morning practice session for the Sulphur Springs Wildcats took on a more team-oriented look. That's in preparation for tomorrow.

The Wildcats will put on full pads for the first time Friday morning, and will get into a full scale team scrimmage after their mid-morning break, said head coach Greg Owens.

Sulphur Springs has been practicing in shorts and helmets for their first four days, as mandated by the University Interscholastic League. They have been fitted for their shoulder pads and girdles (tight-fitting Spandex that carries thigh pads) and will hit the field at 7 a.m. tomorrow fully geared up.

Owens said they will do individual drills in the early part of practice to allow the players to get accustomed to the pads, then will have a contact scrimmage starting at about 9:45 a.m.

A JUMP AHEAD - Sulphur Springs is the only District 13-4A school that started practice this week. The rest of the teams took part in full contact spring drills, so they cannot start fall practice until next week. ... The Wildcats may go to afternoon practices the week of Aug. 18 because coaches will be undergoing inservice training during the day. Owens has not yet officially released the schedule for that week.

1-2-3-KICK - Coaches are still auditioning punters, deep snappers and return men. Colton Nash, Tyrik Rollison and Shane McQueen are some of those in the running for punter. Jayden Wallace and Johnny McSheffery are among those deep snapping. Return men will likely be Rashad Hall, Bryant "Day Day" Jackson and/or Anthony Mills. ... Place kickers and holders are still being sorted out.

LIGHTS OUT - The new lights have been erected at Gerald Prim Stadium. They were needed because the stadium had just about half of the 50 candle lights that the UIL recommends. The new lights will undergo a 100-hour burn soon so they can properly set. ... When ESPN2 broadcasts the Wildcats' game against Wichita Falls Rider on Thursday, Sept. 11, they will bring in additional, portable lighting that will double the existing wattage.

ODDS AND ENDS - Spectators have been few and far between for most practices, but that will likely change for the better when the pads go on tomorrow. ... Football isn't the only activity going on at the high school. The cross country boys and girls have been hitting the roads at about 7 a.m., the Blue Blazes are working out and running, the volleyball girls are going through morning workouts and the marching band is out on the practice fields in the late afternoon. Team tennis workouts begin next week.

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