By Donna Lampkin
In the midst of a stellar spring for Central Arkansas Christian athletics, football took a back seat earlier this month.
Spring football drills began May 13 on Mustang Mountain and concluded with the intrasquad game May 21. The Mustangs played for the Class 4A state soccer championship on May 18; the baseball team reached the semifinals of the state baseball tournament the previous week.
"We had a really good week," football coach Tommy Shoemaker said. "We didn’t have any major injuries, and we got better throughout the week. Our soccer guys missed most of that week, but most of those four were older players who have experience and know pretty much what was going on."
Having graduated 14 seniors from a squad that finished 7-4 and reached the second round of the playoffs, Shoemaker and his staff have some holes to fill for 2013.
"We’ve got a lot of young kids, so the spring was good for them," he said. "We tried to do a lot of scrimmaging so we could get a lot of film on these kids. We haven’t seen them play except for in junior high, and it’s different when they get up here with the older kids.
"We’ve had some good surprises, and we’ve got some experience back on defense and quarterback and other places."
Jack Thomas, the senior-to-be, will return at quarterback. He made the move last year but was lost in the season opener, as was Austin Nutt, described by Shoemaker as the Mustangs’ best lineman.
"No defense for Jack this year, and we’re hoping he can stay healthy," he said. "He knows what’s going on, and he’s a leader. We’re just trying to figure out some of the spots around him because we lost a lot of receivers."
One bright spot is senior-to-be Adam Weiner at tight end, who has added five inches and 40 pounds since season’s end, Shoemaker said.
"He’s 6-5, 230; he’ll be a big target for us, and we certainly plan on putting him to use," Shoemaker said. "(Senior-to-be) Jack Partlow will help on both sides of the ball. We’re breaking in a new tailback, (sophomore-to-be) Braylon Harris. He’ll have a chance to play both ways as well."
The school year ended on Mustang Mountain last week, and Shoemaker’s troops are taking this week off. They’ll begin thrice-weekly workouts next week. The summer schedule includes a team camp at Mustang Mountain with Greenbrier, Pottsville and Glen Rose on June 5 and 7-on-7 tournaments at Batesville Southside on June 8 and Valley View on June 13.
July will feature Fastang, a school-wide strength and conditioning program four days a week. Mid-month, the Mustangs will head to Searcy for some campus. The Mustangs will take off for the Arkansas Activities Association-mandated dead weeks June 17-28 and also for the week of July 4.
"Then we’ll have four weeks solid when we come back before we get it going Aug. 5," Shoemaker said. "We’re cutting back on some of our 7-on-7 and doing more team camps. We’re excited to do some different stuff, go to some different places and see some different teams."