LINDALE — Lindale won seven games and advanced to the second round of the football playoffs in 2018.
The Eagles won six of their seven contests before falling to Port Neches-Groves in the area round.
Eight starters return on defense for the Eagles, but just four starters are back on offense.
“It helps that we have all of these guys returning, because we’re able to build on the stuff we learned last year,” senior defensive lineman Matthew Grady said. “We’re going to have a wider range of stuff we can do to offenses to keep them guessing.”
The defensive line hasn’t gotten to show their full array of skills early in fall practices, but that time will come on Friday when the Eagles and other teams that began practice on Monday can officially begin full contact drills.
“It can’t be put into words how excited I am,” Grady said. “We have so much energy built up inside of us. I can’t express how much I’m looking forward to it.”
“Our defensive line has been pretty solid through three days, but it’s hard to tell up front because it’s not physical, yet,” Lindale head football coach Chris Cochran said. “We’re waiting to actually be able to hit and play the way the game the way it’s supposed to be played. That’s where we find our football players.”
But despite not being able to go into full contact drills, the Eagles have still seen plenty of positives in the early stages of practice.
“Jordan Jenkins, our secondary and Brayson Campbell are some of the ones who have stood out,” Cochran said. “Our receivers have been kind of hit and miss. We’ve had different ones having good days, but we haven’t had the consistency we need out of them.”
“I think we’ve performed well in learning new things,” said Jenkins, a running back who rushed for 1,504 yards and 17 touchdowns last season as a sophomore. “We have to get one percent better every day and keep working hard.”
“Everyone is catching on pretty quickly,” said Campbell, who is vying for the quarterback job. “We’ve been hustling really well. But we’ve still got to get better.”
For Campbell, the tools are in place, but he said working on his leadership could be the key to guiding the Eagles’ offense this season.
Two players who opened eyes on Wednesday were junior safety Corey Sanders and junior lineman Luke Sandifer.
Overall, Cochran has been pleased with what he’s seen from his team through the first three days.
“It’s going well, but we’re trying to get in shape,” Cochran said. “They’re learning and growing. I think each day we’re getting better and better. We’re being hard on them. We’re trying to get them to understand that football is a hard game.”
Lindale will have scrimmages against Crandall and Chapel Hill before opening the regular season against Kaufman Aug. 29 at Christus Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium.