Much to be learned from spring practices

Published 6:00 pm Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Spring football is an oxymoron. There should be no such thing.

Spring is for baseball and softball and all those other sports associated with pollen and rainy days. Football is synonymous with the fall—crunchy leaves and a crispness in the air.

Nevertheless, high school football teams put on pads this time of the year and get in some practice. How much they accomplish is debatable. Some coaches talk as though spring practice is crucial for a good team come August, but other coaches will hint that the spring is almost an inconvenience.

No matter what the coaches think, though, spring practice can yield some important revelations about teams:

Billingsley. The Bears will be a team in transition this fall. Many of the key contributors from last year’s squad, which was one of the state’s best in Class 1A, have graduated, and new leadership will have to emerge. And the summer is typically the time when that happens.

Chilton County. Many new faces could be seen at Tiger Stadium during practices, and that’s a testament to a sense of excitement coach Brian Carter has brought to the program in his second offseason. CCHS was supposed to host a spring jamboree game with Isabella, Jemison and Maplesville, but the event was cancelled because of heavy rain. It would have been interesting to see how these four teams stacked up against each other.

Isabella. Like Billingsley, the Mustangs will have to replace many of their playmakers on both sides of the ball. There will be experience in the backfield, though, with quarterback Allen Edwards, fullback Blake Lawley, and running back Willie Stacy.

Jemison. Another team that will rely on younger players. Several talented, underclassmen like quarterback Scott Clements and backs Isa Bentley and Javae Swindle, will be better because of the experience.

Maplesville. Coach Brent Hubbert said two of the Red Devils’ practices were the best he’d seen since Hubbert had took the job there. Last year’s team was in the same position Billingsley, Isabella and Jemison will be in this season. Expect the Devils to make significant strides.

Thorsby. New coach Billy Jackson knows an attitude change will come before the Rebels start winning again. Jackson has made the offseason strength and conditioning program and positive reinforcement the priorities.

Verbena. The Red Devils looked as good, if not better, than both Billingsley and Class 3A Montevallo in a spring jamboree. The Devils have a handful of players that would start for anyone in the state; coach Mike Harris just has to build some quality depth.