Like most high school teams in the state, the Watson Chapel Wildcats have been working on their fundamentals during the first week of practice.
“We’ve basically just been working on normal football things,” coach George Shelton said. “Trying to install basic offense and basic defensive schemes.
“We want to knock off the rust of our veterans and we want to try to find some new players.”
Shelton said the the team has been successful at that so far.
“Things are never as bad as they look, but you are never as good as you think you are,” Shelton said.
The Wildcats are coming off a season that included six wins and a trip to the state playoffs — losing to Wynne in the first round.
“We had a pretty good spring and we got a few kids back with some experience,” Shelton said. “It has not been bad for five days.”
One of the things that the Wildcats have been working on so far is trying to establish a basic running and passing game.
“We are trying to see what the kids are capable of doing,” Shelton said. “Instead of modifying our players to our scheme, we try to modify our scheme to our players.
“That’s what we are doing right now.”
Even though Watson Chapel has lost a lot of depth at some positions, the overall goal is still the same for the Wildcats — reach the state championship.
“We’d like to have an opportunity to play for state,” Shelton said. “But we are also just trying to take it one day at a time and not get too far ahead of ourselves.
“We want to have a successful season and if that includes a conference championship and a state championship, then so be it.”
Returning for the Wildcats this season is Devonte Battles, who earned all-state honors last year, rushing for almost 1,000 yards. The senior ran for 152 yards and four TDs at Hot Springs in which the Wildcats won 41-23.
Before their season begins, the Wildcats will play at Forrest City on Aug. 27 in a scrimmage game beginning at 7 p.m.
Shelton said the team has “quite a bit of work to do between now and then.”
“We are at the ground level of football and so we have to improve our blocking, tackling and execute our offense,” Shelton said. “Nothing special and nothing out of the ordinary.”
The Wildcats will open their regular season on Sept. 13 against rival Pine Bluff.