ET Football: Longview staff ready to put pieces together
Aug. 9, 2015 at 4 a.m.
All roads lead to Lobo Stadium.
For 45 seniors, who begin their final fall at Lobo Stadium on Monday, it started on the ride home from Tyler after a second-round exit in the playoffs in 2014.
"For a lot of them, this season started on that bus ride home," Longview head coach John King said. "We took up cloth the next day and we went to work.
"It's been a process ever since."
With a large senior class, bolstered by high numbers at the underclassman ranks, the spring session was about finding where everyone fit, both to enhance their skill set and benefit the overall team. This summer, which King raved about a high level of participation, provided the coaching staff to further solidify where each moving part belongs.
"Hopefully we found out during spring ball the best spot for them and for the team," King said. "We've evaluated a lot of film this summer and that's the great thing about spring ball, it gives you the chance to go back, watch and re-watch film of every practice, every game from last season and change things from a personnel or scheme standpoint.
"It's been a busy and productive summer for the players and coaches alike."
But that doesn't mean that Monday and the ensuing few weeks won't provide questions to be answered and competition for spots to be had.
"The competition is far from over," King said. "There's guys that'll be listed as No. 1 on Monday that might not be on Tuesday.
"The competition for spots was great in the spring and we expect it to be great starting Monday."
With a high number in the Class of 2016 — a group that includes 31 returning letterman — King said he'll look to those seniors to pave the way when practice starts.
"They know the drill, they know the schemes and the schedule," King said. "I feel like we've got some great senior leadership in a group that wants to play together and guys that have committed to improving themselves physically and mentally for Monday."
The first four days in shorts and helmets, as is the routine each year, will be about judging that retention as far as schemes and conditioning, as well as adjusting the August heat, where forecasts have shown 100-plus-degree temperatures each day.
"Our training staff and coaching staff are both well educated in the heat and we're going to do everything we can to protect our kids," King said. "They've got to be smart too. They've got to rest, eat properly, hydrate and take care of themselves. They've got to be ready physically when they show up. There's only so much that we can do and we'll do every single thing we can do but they have to be ready and prepared coming in."
Along with preparing for Monday, King spent the summer filling coaching positions.
"It's signed, sealed and delivered," he said. "If it wasn't for the great administration we have here at the district and high school level and the tremendous amount of help we get from our human resources department, we would've be able to get it done."
A moment of pride for King is that his staff will feature three former Lobo players. Joining Gordon Booker (2006 graduate) will be Spencer Borens (2010 graduate) and Jon Writt, a 2008 LHS graduate, who was hired as a varsity assistant who will work the wide receivers.
"It's great to see those guys come back," King said. "They did it right and were part of some great winning teams that did it at a high level.
"I think that those former players that are back understand it all because they've lived it and walked it. We've got some great coaches that are new to the program that have a great understanding of the type of football we play and what is expected of our coaches and our kids. They knew what they signed up for, they're excited and we're excited to have them here."
For the first time, the practice schedule will be split amongst those reporting. Freshman will report at 8 a.m., providing King and his complete staff to work with both groups separately.
Junior varsity and varsity players will report at 2 p.m. for meetings and will hit the field by 4:45 p.m. and will practice until 7 p.m.
The Lobos will host Ennis for their lone preseason scrimmage on Aug. 21 before hostinng Lufkin on Aug. 28 for the regular-season opener.
(Follow Hayden Henry on Twitter: @hayden_h)