Spring football is finally upon us, and several teams have already hit the practice field. The coaches are getting a look at who will fill important roles left open by the seniors who are graduating this year, as well as a look at some of the younger players who are moving into the high school ranks from junior high ball.
One team, the Watson Chapel Wildcats, have been on the field and held their annual spring football game Friday afternoon at Wildcat Stadium.
"I love this time of the year," stated Watson Chapel head coach George Shelton. "This is the time that we get to see some of our new guys for the first time, and also see who will step up and fill in several open spots. Spring football is a very important part of the game in terms of finding out who you can expect to be play makers in the upcoming season."
Coach Shelton's team will have several spots open after graduating a talented group of seniors. Shelton's graduating senior class was loaded with talent, and five players signed collegiate scholarships, a feat that Shelton is proud of.
"We had an assembly the other day, and I was proud to stand up and talk about our guys who signed scholarships this year." Shelton said. "I was able to stand up there and tell them that we are doing more than just lifting weights and playing football, we are graduating scholar athletes. We have players on the quiz bowl, and we are involved with the community. We do more than just play football around here; we take care of our business in other aspects of life as well."
While Shelton is proud of those scholar athletes, he also knows it is time to find their replacements. A couple of players put in the work and effort during the game, and ended up impressing their coach.
"I really thought a couple of guys stood out for us over spring ball and during the game." Shelton said. "Guys like Jerome Eason, James Collier, Jordan Stargell, Jackie Harris, and Josh Harris. Josh made several tackles for loss for us, and that is big. He appears to be fearless; he just jumps in there and gets the job done."
The Watson Chapel coaching staff ran a 100 play scrimmage, the most plays they have ran in a scrimmage since taking over the reins nearly five years ago.
"That was the most plays we have ever run since we've come here." Shelton said. "I thought we saw a pretty even match-up between offense and defense, and I was pleased with their effort. We made some mistakes, but they played through them. The defense runs to the football, and I like that. This is the kind of group that can be special if they will put the time and the work in."
The group is young, but youth will not be used as an excuse under Shelton's watch.
"Why wait until next year to get the job done?" Shelton asked. "We have a talented group of kids who can get to what we call the third season, and that is the playoffs, and they can do it this year. They will certainly be able to do it in a couple of years, but we are not promised tomorrow. We are going to have to live for and play for today. Let's do it right now."
Shelton said his team has shown some good effort which shows him that they can achieve early success with this young team.
"We saw a continuation of what we have seen all through spring practice in the spring game." Shelton said. "Marquis Hadley and James Collier ran the ball well for us. Jerome Eason has a lot of skill sets at quarterback, and we have some good receivers. We will have to polish some things off with them in 7-on-7 this summer, but we will get there."
You can view a brief highlight video of the Wildcats spring game below.
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