Demons get first hits on Saturday
If you were anywhere near Case Field on Saturday morning, it may have finally felt like fall.
The sound of pads hitting pads echoed from the Washington football practice field, as the Demons ran in full pads for the first time this fall.
In other words, football is back.
“They’ve been waiting nine months to hit somebody,” first-year head coach Garrison Carter said. “We finally turned them loose today and you could tell there were some guys who were getting a bit antsy. We had a line of people trying to get into that first drill, and that’s a good thing knowing these guys want to hit.”
The first full-pads practice of August camp came quickly for the Demons after a late practice on Friday night, but the Demons looked sharp during Saturday’s practice, flying around on offensive and defensive sides of the ball.
“I thought our guys responded really well,” Carter said. “We kept them out late (Friday night) until about 8:30, then asked them to wake up early on Saturday morning first thing, and to come out in full pads. We have some guys who want to hit and offensively and defensively I thought we looked pretty good.”
Washington will host a scrimmage on Friday afternoon at 5 p.m. against Eddyville-Blakesburg, but here are some observations from Saturday’s first day in full pads.
The tone was set early in practice on Saturday. Right from the get-go they were hitting, starting with Oklahoma drills.
The three-on-three, and one-on-one drills were able to display a lot of the power that Washington will be leading with up front.
Led by returning All-State lineman Tommy Peterson, the offensive line dominated when he was involved in the drill. When Peterson swapped sides to the defensive line, his power was overwhelming, winning almost every battle which he was in.
During 11-on-11 work, the No. 1 defensive line, with Peterson, Tama Leutele and Thomas Bump (more on him in a moment), was wreaking havoc on the scout team, making it difficult to get successful plays off.
“It’s the same thing (for the offense and defense),” Carter said. “We have to finalize the depth chart. (Offensively), everything is installed; now we are just repping it. The defense isn’t new to these guys, it’s just some mental errors that we are making right now, but we’ll get those corrected and be ready to go.”
Pretty much any coach will tell you that any football game starts in the trenches, and going into the 2014 season, the Demons are capable of, and look focused on winning all those battles.
Bump on the road
If the Demons want to make a return trip to the state championship game, they will need playmakers to fill the void left by graduated All-State running back Alex Coker.
The team is spending camp trying to figure out who will take over that void, and Thomas Bump appears to be an early candidate.
Already an All-District defensive end in 2013, Bump was flashing his ability on both sides of the ball in Saturday’s practice, routinely beating his man in defensive drills to blow up plays in the backfield, and perhaps more importantly for the Demons, catching nearly every ball thrown his way.
Last season it was a run-first, run-second offense for the Demons, who averaged fewer than 10 pass attempts per game, but that figures to even out a bit under a new regime. Bump is listed as a tight end, but was often lining up outside as a wide receiver, and beating the defenders put on him for big plays.
“I love catching the ball, and having Darren (Seibelius) as the quarterback I just know I have to run my route and the ball will be there,” Bump said. “I have to make the catch and make the play.”
There is obvious camaraderie between the senior quarterback and his tight end, and with the offense looking to air the ball out a little more than in previous years (which isn’t saying too much), Seibelius and Bump plan to see each other in the end zone quite often this season.
“We’ve been playing football with each other since kindergarten in backyards and stuff,” Seibelius said. “We have a lot of chemistry from a long time ago, and I just trust him.”
The Demons find themselves in a good situation, coming off one of its best seasons of all-time, and returning a lot of players to the team.
But the team realizes it still has some holes to fill, and they aren’t ready to challenge for the state title just yet.
“We aren’t too far from where we need to be,” Bump said. “Obviously, we want to get a lot better, but right now we look good, we are playing hard, hitting and flying to the ball and that’s the big thing that coach stresses.”
With less than two weeks until the first game of the season, the Demons know that they need to continue to work hard to keep up their momentum.
“We need to come out every day and not go soft,” Seibelius said. “We just know you have to go 100 percent to get better.”
“We’ve got to bring the juice, get ready and play hard,” Bump added.