Football season officially started Monday on Mustang Mountain when Tommy Shoemaker’s seventh Central Arkansas Christian team began fall drills.
Forty-two players reported, about what Shoemaker and his staff had expected. The Mustangs worked from 7-10 a.m. Monday and Tuesday and shifted to 6-9 a.m. for the rest of the week.
"We’re doing something a little different, doing everything in the morning," Shoemaker said Monday night. "We had a great first day. The energy was really good. We try to start over from scratch, like they don’t know anything, just in case we missed some detail, but obviously, they know what we’re doing. We try to start slow and put everything in this week."
He said 42 was a good number — up from 33 a year ago when the Mustangs went on to finish 4-6 overall and 2-5 in their final run through the 7-4A that left them one spot short of a playoff berth. CAC moves to the 2-4A for the 2014-15 cycle.
"We’ve got some good depth and we’ve got some good competition at several spots" Shoemaker said. "That always helps make you a better team. We’ve got two quality quarterbacks who are both doing a great job."
He said the race between sophomore Noah Evans and junior Kayleb Scallon to replace the graduated Jack Thomas would be a tight one. But he is comfortable with either, he said.
"They’ll both get a lot of reps until we get to the scrimmage, and we’ll name a starter for sure after the scrimmage," Shoemaker said. "It’s good to keep them under pressure to get stuff ready, and then when it’s time to get ready for a game, I’ll tell them (the starter). I’ve got a lot of confidence in both of them."
After Friday’s morning drills, the Mustangs will depart for their team retreat at Camp Tahkodah in Floral for the weekend.
"We don’t even take a football with us," Shoemaker said. "It’s a time for the kids to be around one another and relax a little bit."
They’ll have church services there Sunday before returning home and will then shift to their afternoon practice schedule next week. They’ll go from about 5-8 p.m. Monday and Tuesday and then get into a regular routine when school starts at CAC on Wednesday, Aug. 13.
Shoemaker sounded energized on the eve of the new season.
"It’s a really enjoyable group to coach," he said. "They’re very coachable and they always work hard and enjoy each other. There’s good chemistry. I’m really pleased with our staff. We’re off to a good start."