By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– “Let’s get our toes on the line!” echoed across the McKay High School baseball field from Head Coach Josh Riddell.
“Lets have a good practice today! Walking knee highs. Ready begin,” said one of Riddell’s assistants.
As camp winds down, Monday’s fourth practice of the five-day McKay Football camp was the first time the boys in Green and Gold went to full pads.
And it was pretty exciting to say the least.
“Full pads, man I’ve been waiting to put on full pads since last season,” said Manny Miranda. “There’s no other feeling than Football. It’s probably one of the best sports if not the best sport out there. Full gear separates the boys from the men, so you can see who’s been putting in that extra work throughout the offseason.”
“Putting on full pads is like, being reborn,” Jovi Davis. “It’s like a whole new identity. You get to hit somebody without getting into trouble for it and you get fun doing it and your safe as your doing it. So Ive been counted down since the last minute of the last game last year.”
As the team enter their final practice Tuesday, the Royal Scots players and coaches alike how the team has progressed since the start of the Riddell-era a few weeks ago.
“I feel like the team all together has better chemistry than we did before,” said Nolan Araujo. “And so we’re able to do better stuff this season than last season.”
“The team seems a lot stronger mentally,” added Davis. “We’re strong with that. They’re more focused in than not. When there in, they’re going 100-percent and not slowly down or pulling up. When they make a mistake, they’re going full speed and everyone’s having fun while doing it.
For Riddell, he’s impressed with how much these kids are busting their butts to get ready for the season ahead.
“I think they’re responding well,” said Riddell. “They’re running around and it’s been fun to be around.”
First half of practice involved defense with Head Coach Josh Riddell working on their packages with blitzes and coverages.
“The defensive side, I like what we’re putting in,” said Miranda. “A lot of our senior players are stepping up and finding their roles.”
As the practice continued, the team progressed into offense, working on a few new faucets from Riddell’s offense, with some play-action and ground game winkles.
The plays are just part of something that this team is excited to see in action come September.
“This offense is coming together really strong,” said Davis, who took a lot of the offensive snaps at Quarterback Monday. “The lineman seem like they’re enjoying it more, it’s less pulling and that kind of stuff, it’s easier on them. We’re doing what we’re good at and that’s just using our speed against the defense.”
As the three-and-a-half practice came to a close, Riddell posed another challenge to the team.
Already tired, Riddell challenged the team in a no-huddle drill that the team gladly accepted and succeeded.
“It’s awesome,” said Riddell. “First off that’s the last thing we’re doing everyday. So those kids, three hours into practice, they’re already tired. We’re making them work for it. They’re getting the ball and we’re doing quick offensive reps.
“Those O-Line(man), they didn’t have any back-ups today so a lot of them were getting all the reps. So they busted their butts, they just competed and it was good to see out of them.”
As for the marathon of a practice though, all four practices leading into Tuesday’s two-and-a-half hour practice, have been three-and-a-half hours.
Rough right? Not so much, the kids love the amount of time they’re out there practicing and hanging out with one another.
“I really like it,” said Miranda. “Because with the three-and-a-half hour practice, you can really break it down play-by-play and what constants we’re working on. And with the longer practices, it gets you more mentally stronger because your going to be out there and you want to get the most reps possible out here. It’s really nice to have that long time out here.”
Follow Jeremy McDonald on Twitter at @J_McDonald81 or like jmcdonaldmedia on Facebook!
PHOTO GALLERY (PICTURES BY JEREMY MCDONALD)