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The Sun-Times - Heber Springs, AR
  • Ramblers adjusting to new offense

  • Rose Bud first-year Coach Kevin Coleman finished spring and summer team camps confident the Ramblers could run three plays in their new Dead-T offensive attack.
    Following last Friday's practice, Coleman said 95 percent of the offense has been installed and the players are running it with more confidence.
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  • Rose Bud first-year Coach Kevin Coleman finished spring and summer team camps confident the Ramblers could run three plays in their new Dead-T offensive attack.
    Following last Friday’s practice, Coleman said 95 percent of the offense has been installed and the players are running it with more confidence.
    “We gave them a lot to think about the first few days as far as implementing everything offensively and defensively. It’s not a lot offensively. We don’t have a playbook. Everything we are going to run this year with exception of maybe a trick play here and there we’ve got in. We’ve just got to know it in our sleep. It’s grind and repetition.
    “When you play against yourself there are still some questions. Everyday when we get to the end of our sessions we just stop, take our hats off and ask the guys what questions they have. It’s just some of the finer points. They’ve been darn receptive especially from the lineman point of view. They get their hand on the ground and trying to get them to come off low. We are a lot farther ahead than where we were in May.”
    The Ramblers started with shells (helmets and shoulder pads) on Thursday and continued that Friday after going with shorts and helmets the first three days of preseason camp. On Saturday morning, Rose Bud donned full pads and began tackling, which Coleman said is essential to evolving into a good team.
    The Ramblers switch from a 3-4 to a 5-2 base on defense this year.
    “Running to the football on defense and tackling better in space,” said Coleman when asked of the primary objectives of fall camp.“You can look at some of the films (from last year) and the hardest thing in football is to tackle somebody in open space. So that’s why, even our junior high, the first thing we do after we get warmed up and stretch is the fundamentals of tackling. We’ve got to stop somebody first so that is our primary focus and getting 11 of them to rally around the football.”
    Senior school-record breaking running back Caleb Ferren and senior offensive Dustin Swint, who will be a three-year starter, have stepped up as team leaders in the opening week of practice.
    “I have been real pleased with Dustin Swint and of course Caleb Ferren. Of course Caleb is always going to give you 110 (percent) and from a lineman point of view Dustin … He is a kid that tore his ACL last season. He really wasn’t able to get into the off-season conditioning like a lot of the other kids were.
    Page 2 of 3 - “He was behind there on some of the strength on that bad leg but Dustin never missed a day. He was Monday through Friday 10 o ‘clock (a.m.) the entire summer. He never missed a day, never missed a rep, never missed a workout. He is one of those seniors that realizes this is his last go-around and he is going to make the most of it.”
    Nose guard Nick Bostic, who played part of last season, has been a standout on defense. “He is a big kid and has taken coaching very well on the defensive side of the ball.”
    Ferren, who will line up in the middle of the T set this fall, rushed for 1,490 yards and 14 touchdowns last year out of the Spread offense. “Caleb is steady. He sets an example for everybody,” said Coleman.
    The Ramblers showed some positive signs in their aerial attack during a pass skeleton drill on Friday as junior quarterback Jake Cantey hooked up with several receivers on deep passes, including two 40-yard connections with tight end Sam McGrand.
    Cantey served as backup quarterback and starting receiver last year, catching a 19-yard touchdown pass and two-point conversion in a 28-14 win at Conway Christian.
    Two years ago the strong-armed junior led the Junior Ramblers to a 7-2 record – throwing for 830 yards and 11 touchdowns in just seven games because Rose Bud received two wins by forfeit. Cantey also ran for 323 yards and eight scores on 38 carries for the Junior Ramblers in 2012.
    “We can throw the ball but that doesn’t mean we will a lot,” said Coleman. “When Jake fine tunes his fundamentals he can be a good high school quarterback and we’ve got some kids we think can go and catch it when we throw it.”
    The Ramblers have experience at some positions such as returning senior linebacker Wyatt Way, who led the team in tackles last fall, but also have inexperienced sophomores playing alongside.
    “Our defensive line we’ve got some experience like with Dustin and Nick. But there is a 10th grader lined up next to them. Wyatt Way was our leading tackler last year at our inside linebacker but there is a tenth grader next to him.
    “Sam McGrand has been a good example in the secondary. He is one of those kids that flies to the ball and he is a senior but by the same token there is a 10th grader so that’s the thing. There are some old guys there to provide leadership and experience but it’s tough to throw 10th graders out there on Friday night. We feel good about some guys then it’s the unknown because those other guys haven’t suited up on Friday night,” added Coleman.
    Page 3 of 3 - Rose Bud visits Heber Springs for a preseason jamboree versus the Panthers and Quitman on Monday, Aug. 25. The junior high teams start at 5 p.m. with senior high slated at 7 p.m.
    Rose Bud, which had 20 players out for practice on Friday but lists a few more on its official roster, hosts rival Quitman on Sept. 5.

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