MINEOLA — It was Friday Night Lights for the Mineola Yellow Jackets, and it’s a week earlier than everyone else.
Mineola held its annual Friday night-time practice in conjunction with the first day of pads.
“It’s pretty cool. The year we won the district, some of the kids came up to me with this idea,” Mineola coach Joe Drennon said. “We’d always on the first day of pads get out there on Friday morning. I told them if they wanted to do it, I was all for it.
“The parents get to come out and watch their kids practice.”
The practice began at 9 p.m. and ended at midnight.
It was also the first time for many Mineola fans to see returning senior running back Rhett Self. In a district game against Van, Self rushed 29 times for 205 yards before an ankle injury put him out of commission.
That injury kept him on the sideline.
“I think it was a learning moment for me,” Self said of last year’s injury frustrations. “It was kind of like, ‘Rhett, you’re not superhuman and you are going to have to overcome adversity all the time.’
“This season, it’s all in the Lord’s hands. I’ve been praying for an injury-free senior year.”
Self was not alone to be bitten by the injury bug. In fact, Drennon said Mineola lost five two-way starters in district play alone. The Yellow Jackets limped to a 4-6 record, going 1-4 in its first year in District 15-3A after moving up in classification.
“We just kind of stayed banged up the whole year,” Drennon said. “That is not an excuse, but we (had so many injuries) and in this district you can’t have that. Hopefully, the good Lord will bless us because I think we can play with people if we can keep our main guys on the field.”
One of those main guys is still to be determined as Drennon said he is looking at two players vying for quarterback in their option offense.
But Drennon adds, there is competition for places everywhere and the coaches like what they are seeing right now.
“We’ve had four great days so far; we’ve got kids that want to be on the field and they are working their tails off,” Drennon said. “You don’t have to look for someone to get a rep; they are lining up trying to get someone’s job right now.”
Mineola opens the season at Palestine Westwood on Aug. 30.