For all practical purposes, summer is over for the football players and staff at Central Arkansas Christian.
After taking off two weeks for the Arkansas Activities Association’s mandated dead period, they convened at Mustang Mountain at 7:30 Monday morning for two hours of individual weight work and running. That will be their thrice-weekly schedule (Monday, Tuesday and Thursday) until they report for fall camp July 30.
CAC coach Tommy Shoemaker said for the most part, his team survived the dead period well.
"We’re trying to get back in the groove," he said. "We told them we weren’t going to let up, so they knew we had high expectations for them working out on their own. I thought we had a really good first day back. They responded pretty well, and you can certainly tell who’s done something and who hasn’t."
CAC will also spend July 11, 18 and 25 at a team camp at Searcy High School and will play in a 7-on-7 tournament at War Memorial Stadium to benefit the Garrett Uekman Foundation July 13-14.
The Mustangs went into the dead period following the Shootout of the South 7-on-7 tournament, where they lost their first game to Pulaski Academy, the host and eventual champion (for the third consecutive year).
Shoemaker had hoped to get good work for his new quarterback, junior-to-be Jack Thomas, and he did.
"It was a really good experience for Jack," he said. "We needed him to get as many reps as he could, and he did. That’s going to help him. I thought defensively, we did a lot of good stuff. PA won it, and when we played them, they beat us on the last play of the game. We weren’t as consistent, but I knew it might be that way going into it."
Two Mustangs — receivers/defensive backs Marquelle Nelson and Dylan Huckaby — have attended open camps for rising seniors. Shoemaker said Huckaby had been to Harding University and Arkansas State, and Nelson attended the ASU camp.
And the Shoemaker family got to enjoy their vacation in Destin, Fla., despite Tropical Storm Debby’s looming in the Gulf of Mexico.
"It was great," he said. "The weather ended up OK. Vacation makes you a little lazy, but we’ve got to get back in the groove and get going. You know, after the two-week dead period, summer’s over. It starts back for all of us in earnest.
"I know summer’s not really over, but it might as well be."
CAC will open the season Aug. 27 against Stuttgart at War Memorial Stadium.