One practice is brutally hot. After two, kids are dragging.
So All Saints does three sets of practices.
“We seem to be a lot better; we seem to have more energy in our second and our third practices,” said Trojans coach Bret Atkins, who switched from two 2 1/2-hour practices to three 1 1/2-hour practices this fall.
“We’re not getting as hot. Even though the days are hotter — our temperature reads are hotter — we’re staying fresher because we’re not going two-and-a-half hours at a time.”
All Saints is looking to build on Atkins’ first season with the program, a 4-7 campaign that included a trip to the playoffs.
“Every year is exciting — you never know how it’s going to work out,” Atkins said. “It’s fun to go through it. The drudgery of two-a-days — or three-a-days — is really quite pronounced; it really is. But part of the fun of it is as a coach seeing what type of personality your team will take on. Your leaders will emerge.”
The Trojans ran the ball about 90 percent of the time last year, something they’re looking to change with the new season.
All Saints played 7-on-7 for the first time this summer and returning quarterback John Norton, who ran for more than 1,208 yards as a junior, is looking to throw the ball more than last year’s average of 6.3 pass attempts per game.
“That helped get us repetition so we know the plays better now and also we’ve got the muscle memory with throwing and catching and running routes,” Norton said.
Atkins said he was pleased with the execution of the passing game thus far in practice.
“That was a prime target in the spring and during the fall is that we need to throw the football,” he added. “It’s immeasurable the amount that we’re ahead because these kids chose to do 7-on-7.”
The running game will still be a priority for the Trojans. Merritte Greene and Chandler Hammond will feature as running backs with Hale Buckley at fullback.
Buckley, who had 425 yards rushing last year, will miss the next couple weeks with an injury before coming back for his senior year. Freshman Brice Borgeson will fill in for him in the mean time.
The Trojans open the season against Carrollton Christian at T.K. Gorman’s McCallum Stadium as part of the Tyler Football Classic on Aug. 26. All Saints opens TAPPS Div. III-District 2 play with homecoming at Mewbourne Field against T.K. Gorman on Oct. 7.