BENTON — After four days of helmets and shorts, Polk County football coach Derrick Davis said the Wildcats are not ready for the first game of the season, but he is pleased with what he has seen.
Polk will open the new season with Bradley Central on Aug. 31.
“That’s an exciting game to open with. It’s exciting for our fans; it’s a little more stressful for the coaches,” said Davis. “We’ve had four good days. Of course we are in shorts and are limited in what we can do. We have spent a lot of time getting a lot of our offense in.”
While Bradley Central, Cleveland and Walker Valley have 7-on-7 scrimmages schedules, Polk again has chosen to stick with the more traditional format. The Wildcats will host Greenback in their first scrimmage and travel to East Hamilton and Tyner to wrap up the preseason.
“We haven’t been doing any of the 7-on-7s most teams do. Of course we don’t throw it as much as a lot of teams, but we have been working on a lot of things offensively, in particular special teams,” Davis explained. “We feel like that has been a strength of ours. If we have any strengths, it is being prepared there.”
Full battle dress won’t come into play for yet a couple of more weeks, limiting what teams can and cannot get done on the practice field.
“The new TSSAA rule requires us to go three days in shoulder pads and helmets before we get into full pads. The third week we will start in shoulder pads and helmets, and the following week will be full pads.”
Although it is far too early to really know who is going to step up and who will lag behind when serious go-time arrives, Davis has been pleased with the early demeanor of the Wildcats.
“The attitude has been great with our guys. They have been here and are working hard. We have been getting a lot of people involved. That’s all you can ask right now,” said Davis.
One thing Davis has already changed is the time of day the Wildcats take to the practice field. After some 14 years of evening practices, Polk has switched to early mornings, which has worked out well so far.
“We’ve been fortunate going in the mornings. We have been going in the evenings some and dodging thunderstorms. The only thing I have had to do in the mornings is drag the field to get some of the dew off.”
After ending the 2012 season, the Wildcats have been biding their time in the weight room for the most part, waiting for the day they will be able to throw on the red and white for real.
“I think they are excited to be back. They put in all that time over the winter and summer, they should be excited. It’s getting close,” said Davis. “We are just over a month away from our first game. It is a grind right now for these kids. There is excitement, but they are getting up really early and might be a little sore and it isn’t just fun and games every day. They are having to fight through it.”
The Wildcats coach has been around long enough, however, to know the real excitement will come when the game-night butterflies arrive at the end of August.
“When it becomes really exciting is when the popcorn starts popping and the band starts playing and they get to Friday. But, right now they have something to look forward to and that is the competition of the games. It’s not January when all they had to do is lift [weights]. What they have been working for in the offseason is within sight, which is the regular season,” said Davis.
“I see a lot of excitement. The seniors have really been doing a good job this week with the leadership-type things. It’s been very few times that we (coaches) have been going out, and the guys are not already out stretching on their own. Little things like that have been nice to see.”