Ahead of schedule: Practice has been a cinch for Cardinals

The Dollarway Cardinals are sitting pretty so far this season. After just a week of practice, head coach Cortez Lee believes his team is “ahead of schedule.”

“Our (practices) have been going well,” Lee said. “The team is familiar with the scheme and we are moving a lot faster.

“We are ahead of schedule.”

After spending the entire summer in the gym — working on becoming physically fit — the Cardinals are now focused on their conditioning and their technique.

“We have also been working on our offense and defense and highlighting line and coverage recognition,” Lee said. “We conditioned ourselves all summer and now we are focused on our cardiovascular.”

Lee said the Cardinals are doing different kind of drills such as sprints, cone drills and five star drills to help “condition their bodies.”

The Cardinals won 10 games and a share of the 2-4A Conference championship in 2012 and have 14 starters returning, including Arkansas State verbal commit Joshua Liddell.

Liddell, who plays at tailback and QB, ran for 1,130 yards and 12 touchdowns last year. Senior Darius Robinson ran for more than 600 yards and eight TDs.

“The guys have been here in the program for a couple of years, so they understand it a lot better,” Lee said.

Lee said once you have a group of guys who work hard as time wears on, it starts to get easier for them.

“It makes the switch a lot easier,” Lee said.

Dollarway made it to the second round of the state playoffs before losing 34-24 to Highland.

One thing that has stood out to Lee early in the year has been the leadership by some of his seniors.

“They feel more in tune and they get what the coaches are saying,” Lee said. “They are being accountable in just about every situation.

“The guys are having fun.”

Senior linebacker Deandre Payton made more than 100 tackles last year.

“They are a lot more familiar and things just feel natural,” Lee said.

The Cardinals will open the season at home against Helena-West Helena Central on Sept. 6, but are scheduled for a scrimmage game at Little Rock McClellan on Aug. 29.

Lee would like his team to peak in shape and be completely disciplined by the scrimmage.

“I want us to look sound and know our assignments,” Lee said, “to know all the different calls and I would like the guys to be in good shape.”