|
|
|
The Sun-Times - Heber Springs, AR
  • Panthers open preseason camp

  • The Panthers took the field with a hop in their step Monday morning at 7 a.m. on opening day of preseason camp. Once two practices had concluded with a grueling round of conditioning at the end of the second, several players lumbered to the field house exhausted as the summer heat took a toll.
    • email print
      Comment
  • The Panthers took the field with a hop in their step Monday morning at 7 a.m. on opening day of preseason camp. Once two practices had concluded with a grueling round of conditioning at the end of the second, several players lumbered to the field house exhausted as the summer heat took a toll.
    “I was proud of the way they took the field first thing this morning,” said Coach David Farr, who served as a top assistant at Heber the past six seasons. “There was a lot of energy, a lot of enthusiasm. That was good we’ve just got to be able to maintain it, hold onto the energy and be able to have it in the afternoon.”
    Heber Springs practiced over four hours with an hour break in between, allowing the players to re-hydrate with liquids, bananas and popsicles.
    Coming off a 2-8 season, it was clear Farr and staff would not be taking any shortcuts in preparing the program for another run at postseason play after falling short last season for the first time since 2005.
    Farr was impressed with the passing game, but the blocking and overall line play left a little to be desired. Junior quarterback Hunter Chandler, who started at receiver last season, was a bright spot along with a slew of receivers.
    “Throwing and catching was definitely one of the highlights of the day. We threw a lot of good balls and made a lot of good catches.
    “We need to play with better pad level. We are not playing with a lot of good bend in our knees like we should be. That is something we can get better at across the board.
    “At times it was good but it’s spotty. Here and there we will have a guy bust an assignment and the guy right next to him will do a good job. Two plays later it will be somebody else that has a bust. We’ve just got to get everybody together and firing on all cylinders all the way across the board,” added Farr.
    The Arkansas Activities Association mandates three days of shorts and helmets before teams are able to add shoulder pads and eventually full gear. Heber is taking those three days to establish the basic fundamentals.
    “The first three days are a great time to work on fundamentals. Once you get going on opponents and into the schedule you don’t have time to work on that as often so you get really good at those fundamentals all the way across the board,” said Farr.
    “We want to get the kids familiar to our scheme and how that adjusts to various things and various defenses and offenses. It’s a good teaching time for them to understand the concepts.”
    Page 2 of 2 - The Panthers’ practice format remained similar to the past decade, utilizing five-minute drill sessions for each position, but in contrast some of the drills have changed. An emphasis on creating turnovers and blocking technique was addressed more than in the past.
    “We are making a couple of changes here and there so there are some things different in how we are drilling and teaching certain techniques. How we practice is real efficient. We move in and out of drills on a regular basis to keep the kids moving and keep their interest into what is going on. It’s similar but there are some new concepts to what we are teaching,” added Farr.
    Senior receiver/defensive back Austin McVay and senior running back/safety Chandler Marquardt stood out as leaders. “Austin McVay has done a good job of being vocal and pointing the players in the right direction,” said Farr. “Q [Marquardt] also did a good job. I am real proud of those two guys and how they handled it today.”
    The Panthers, who had 39 players dressed out, list eight offensive returning starters and nine defensive regulars from last year’s team. After going through spring practice and summer workouts with Farr at the helm, most are accustom to the grind each day presents.
    But the week off prior to Monday’s practice left the Panthers a little out of sync.
    “Coming back after having a week off there was definitely some rust,” said Farr. “But I thought there was a lot of carry over from the summer through our conditioning and the team camps that we participated. We go back and start from ground zero with them. Our guys do a good job of knowing where to be and knowing their assignments.”
    Although not completely satisfied with either practice, Farr said the Panthers were more crisp in the first two-hour morning session. But as the heat index rose from the high 70s to high 80s in the second practice, some of the players began to make uncharacteristic mistakes ¬ both mental and physical.
    “I’d say the first practice [was better]. There at the end of the second practice heat started getting to them a little bit and conditioning came into play,” said Farr. “We struggled and fought through the tail end of that but when you have a cool morning like we did you are going to have that.”
    Heber will go with shells (helmet and shoulder pads) on Thursday, Friday and next Monday before donning full pads for the first time on Tuesday, Aug. 12.
    Following a preseason scrimmage at Panther Stadium on Aug. 25, Heber hosts Clinton for the season opener on Sept. 5.

        calendar