RED SPRINGS — As one of the two first-year coaches in Robeson County this year, Red Springs football coach Lawrence Ches is using the 10-practice period in the spring as his install time for a team that returns a load of talent, and also adds athletes playing football for the first time in high school.
Ches said the practices thus far have yielded on average 50 players a day at spring workouts, a promising number with drivers education and several football players practicing for the state track meet. The Red Devils also welcome several basketball players that are playing football this year for the first time in high school.
“We are working hard on teaching and we’ve got good numbers with a lot of new guys out there,” he said. “All the long athletes showed up and everyone is excited.”
Red Springs went 6-6 and made the playoffs, but discipline issues seemed to be its downfall in close games. Ches said from day one that is his main focus and the spring is his first chance to implement it.
“That’s the main thing is we are looking to hold the individuals accountable,” he said. “The lessons we are teaching them are not something for football or life, but tools to be a good man. With that, the success will come and the winning comes.”
The other new guy on the block — Fairmont’s Kevin Inman — is getting his team accustomed to a new style and coaching staff.
“I told the boys that we are building a foundation. Just like a house, you have to put in the foundation first and the spring is where we build our foundation,” Inman said. “How we build on these next three practices will carry over to the summer and the summer will go into the fall.”
The Golden Tornadoes went 8-5 last season and made it to the second round of the state playoffs under coach Mar Heil, who retired after the end of the season.
Inman and his new staff are implementing their new style on both sides of the ball, and the response of the players learning of the new system has been quick.
“We’ve been installing our base offense and defense that was different from the past but the boys are picking it up,” he said. “With a new staff and new players, for me the challenge has been the same as the players, but our staff has done a great job of presenting it.”
On average, Inman has had 30 to 35 players out there for each session.
St. Pauls enters the second year under coach Ernest King and comes off its first state playoff appearance since 2014. The faces have changed in some positions, but continuing to get repetitions for the returners to work in with the new crowd was the goal in spring practice.
The Bulldogs elected to go with having a maximum of 21 players at each practice outside the dead period, instead of going with unlimited players from May 8 to the end of school for 10 practices, like Fairmont and Red Springs.
“We got a new defense. Everybody on our defense graduated so we’re turning around and working on new kids,” King said. “Offensively we have everybody coming back. It’s all about getting the reps and having everyone learn what they need to do.”
A main focus also came in the weight room for St. Pauls that will play more to speed in the Fall as compared the size it had this season.
“Our biggest thing is we want to get bigger, stronger and faster, but we’re going to be more conditioned than anyone we play,” King said. “It’s worked for us and we will see what we can do in the summer.”
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977. Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.