ECHS hits practice field

Published 9:49 am Monday, August 9, 2010

Despite the heat and rainy weather, the Escambia County Blue Devils have hit the field for fall football practice, and are preparing for the 2010 season.

The Blue Devils, dressed in shirts and shorts for the first three days of practice, have been working to get accustomed to the structure of practice before they put on pads for the first time today.

Blue Devils head coach Mark Heaton said things have gone well the first three days with absences the only problem he has seen. He added that missed practices have been addressed to his team.

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“As far as structure of practice is, the kids are familiar with it from the spring workouts, so they have been adjusting well,” Heaton said. “The rain chased us inside on Monday, but yesterday (Tuesday) we were able to get in a good day of work on the field. One thing that is going to change is kids will be at practice everyday unless they are excused. If they miss one practice they are suspended for a game. If they miss practice three times, they can take it to the house. Right now, we have seven starters suspended for the jamboree game.”

The first three days of practice were used to work on the Blue Devils’ special teams before moving into the first day in pads on Thursday.

The first day in pads for the Blue Devils went remarkably well, according to Heaton.

“Our first practice in full pads went great,” Heaton said. “We had a fantastic day of practice on Thursday, which is very unusual because there is usually a tough transition period from shorts and helmets to full pads. It was a great practice though.”

Another thing that helped the Blue Devils practice on Thursday was the amount of players that made it to practice.

Heaton said for the first time since he took over as head coach at ECHS, he had every player at a practice.

“The best thing about Thursday’s practice was for the first time since my first day here, we had 100 percent attendance,” Heaton said. “I told the guys that when everyone is here, we will always have great practices. That’s a key to being successful, and we are making that move. The last two days, we have taken tremendous strides towards becoming the successful football team we need to be.”

As for his offensive and defensive units, Heaton has liked what he has seen from each side of the ball.

Defensively, the Blue Devils look to be getting stronger and gelling as a unit.

Heaton said his defensive coordinator and defense have done a good job of getting things together.

“Defense is our strength right now,” Heaton said. “We aren’t anywhere near where we need to be, but coach (Andy) Lambert had done a great job of getting the right combination of players on the field at the right times. He is a tremendous defensive coordinator, and that’s one of the reasons I wanted him at this school with me.”

Offensively, the Blue Devils are excelling with things they have learned from spring and summer.

Heaton said work with the offense has been good because they have advanced in their playbook.

“From spring to summer, our offense has retained a lot of information,” Heaton said. “We are beginning to build off of the foundation we put in place, and are beginning to add in more things. As far as understanding goes though, we are in good shape, After that, it’s all about execution.”

The Escambia County Blue Devils began working in full pads on Thursday afternoon. The Blue Devils are preparing for their jamboree game at Linden on Aug. 20. | File Photo