Photo by Barry BurlesonHead coach Donald Deans goes over a play with his offensive unit during the first practice Monday afternoon.
Photo by Barry BurlesonHolly High linemen go to work in preseason practice Monday.
Football season drawing near
There’s excitement in the air as Holly Springs, Byhalia, H.W. Byers and Potts Camp begin practicing for a new football season.
The Hawks, Indians, Lions and Cardinals got started this week with season openers set for August 16 and 17.
Donald Deans, entering his fifth season as head coach at Holly High, has a lot of experience returning.
“We’re very optimistic,” he said. “It should be a better year for us.”
Last season the Hawks finished 3-8 overall and 1-4 in Region 2-3A.
Deans said his team will be operating out of the same offensive and defensive schemes.
“We have a lot of starters back, and they should know the system,” he said. “We just have to get up to game speed – get in the flow of things.
“We’re not a big team, so we have to play fast.”
The Hawks will visit Coffeeville on Friday, Aug. 10, for a jamboree. That game will begin at 6 p.m.
The following week, Friday, Aug. 17, they will face their county rival to kick off the season. Game-time in Byhalia is 7 p.m.
Things are looking up, too, in the Indians’ preseason camp.
“No doubt, we will be a lot better football team,” coach John Danley said. “We’re looking forward to the season.”
Last season Byhalia went 3-7 overall and 0-5 in Region 1-4A. Danley took over as head coach in July last year, just prior to the start of preseason practice.
He said spending the spring and summer with the players has been crucial.
“We’ve had a great turnout through the summer – 30 to 35 in the weight room,” Danley said.
Practice in the early going will focus on fine tuning the offense and defense.
“And we will work on special teams every day, too,” he said.
The Indians will not participate in a jamboree.
They will host the rival Hawks on Friday, Aug. 17, to get the 11-game regular season started.
At H.W. Byers, Chris Daniels is the dean of county head coaches. He is beginning his sixth season.
“The key for us is staying injury-free,” he said.
The injury bug bit the Lions hard last season as they started out the season with 26 players and had only 13 available for some games.
In 2017, H.W. Byers finished 3-8-1, with no wins in District 2-1A.
Daniels has experience returning. But one big change personnel-wise will be Malik Glover moving from receiver to quarterback.
“We will feature more quarterback runs – more option football,” he said. “We want to highlight his strengths.”
He said much of preseason practice will deal with getting the players acclimated to the heat and “getting them in shape.”
The Lions will not play a jamboree contest. They open the season on Thursday, Aug. 16, at Hickory Flat.
The first Region 2-1A game is September 7 at home versus powerful Okolona.
“In our district, you have to play well every Friday night,” Daniels said. “There are no easy ones.”
Potts Camp began preseason practice Monday under the leadership of a new head coach, Darrow Anderson. He led the West Memphis Christian (Ark.) Black Knights to a Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class A state championship last season.
“The guys who have been here all summer are ready to go,” Anderson said a couple of days prior to preseason practice. “And I know I’m ready to go. It’s an exciting time for Potts Camp football, and we’re ready to get started.”
The Cardinals finished 2-10 overall last season and 1-7 in the district.
Anderson has high hopes of improvement.
“I believe we have a good chance to have a good year, based on our talent level and what I’ve seen in the spring and summer,” he said. “We have a good shot at turning things around.”
He said lack of numbers or depth could be an issue.
“I’m not really worried about the physical side of things but more so the mental side,” Anderson said. “We have to learn to handle adversity and just keep fighting when things don’t go our way. If we can do that, I think we can be a solid football team.”
The Cardinals will visit Northpoint Christian in Southaven for a jamboree on Friday, Aug. 10.
They kick off the season by traveling to Lee Academy (in Marianna, Ark.) on Friday, Aug. 17.