Monday’s storm over Mustang Mountain passed just in time for Tommy Shoemaker’s sixth Central Arkansas Christian football squad to open fall drills.
A few hours later, Shoemaker pronounced Day 1 a success.
"This group’s ahead, and I think they’re not too far away from being ready to play," Shoemaker said. "They’ve picked up things. We had a good spring and summer. We were pretty polished today for the first day."
Thirty-three players reported, about what the CAC coaches had expected. Because of the cooler-than-usual weather, Shoemaker shifted the Mustangs’ preseason drills to the afternoon from their usual morning. They’ll lift weights starting at 4 p.m. and practice for 2 1-2 hours afterward through Thursday, take Friday off for a team retreat and practice in full pads for the first time Monday afternoon.
"Just about all of them were here all summer," Shoemaker said of his Mustangs. "We had real good attendance this summer, so we knew what to expect."
As usual, though, he said coaches started from scratch Monday.
"We try to start off working like nobody knows anything," he said. "We reinstall everything, re-teach everything trying to get some of the finer points down. At this point, they know all that stuff, so we’re just trying to teach some of the details and trying to get every kid reps to help our depth. Then when we set the starters, when we have the two-deep, those will be the ones who will get most of the work."
CAC’s seniors will go to Camp Tahkodah in Floral near Batesville on Friday. Sophomores and juniors will join them Saturday.
"We don’t do any football," Shoemaker said. "We’ll get up there and try to have a good time. Every once in a while we’ll give them a challenge to do as a team, but we mainly just want them to be around each other and grow closer as a team before everything starts."
After classes begin on Aug. 14, the football team will have morning weight sessions and practice after school.
Shoemaker said he was happy to be back at work.
"For your family, it’s bittersweet because the summer’s over, but it’s always exciting to get going," he said. "I don’t know anybody who looks forward to two or three weeks of practice without a game coming up, but it’s one of those things you’ve got to do to get ready, and you’re glad you’ve got the time."
The Mustangs will once again play on the opening day of the high school season. They’ll play Stuttgart again at War Memorial Stadium on Tuesday, Sept. 3. The Ricebirds are the defending Class 4A state champions.