A large group of incoming freshmen and sophomore varsity hopefuls has caused Lutcher to undertake an unusual start to spring football practice.
Slightly less than 50 young Bulldog pups are taking part in an underclassmen-only two-day practice session before the upperclassmen join the fray on Monday.
“This is kind of something we looked at last year,” Lutcher coach Dwain Jenkins said. “We saw what we had coming up from our middle school and we knew we would have a big group coming together. And we’ve got 19 guys who are going to be juniors and seniors who started games for us. We wanted to make sure we were giving attention to our young guys. We are doing what the NFL would call a rookie minicamp for two days.”
The two-day session is sort of an introduction to Bulldogs football – the Lutcher way.
“We are bringing all of our incoming freshmen and our to-be sophomores and we are really spending some one-on-one time with the young guys. We just want to give them the attention that they deserve and get them acclimated to the program and be able to get hands-on with the varsity coaches,” said Jenkins.
The Bulldogs took their lumps a year ago while playing a large number of young, inexperienced players. Most of them are returning as seasoned veterans, allowing Lutcher to experiment with its new spring approach.
“We played so many young guys last year and with the number of incoming freshmen – I think we have 29 incoming freshmen class – it was a conscious effort to ‘let’s spend some time with these young guys,’” Jenkins said. “When you get those 19 guys who played last year coming back, we knew those are the guys who will be varsity starters for us.
“We know the guys that are going to win or lose games in the fall and coaches unconsciously spend a lot of time on those guys and we wanted to make sure we were giving attention to a young group that we think has a lot of talent and the potential to be the future of this program. We wanted to spend some good, quality time with them.”
The new approach also allows for coaches to get back to the basics, according to Jenkins.
“It gives us an opportunity as coaches a chance to go back to basics and make sure we teach them things the way we want them taught and we are clear on how we explain things. These young guys, they don’t know. Sometimes when you get those older guys back that have played a lot, you do a lot of assumptions that you assume they carry things over. This is forcing us to go back to ground level and really build those skills and those techniques we need to be successful,” said Jenkins.
The extra time spent on the young players also should be beneficial, Jenkins said, to a few players who are making position changes and a couple of upperclassmen who are playing football for the first time.
Examples include Copeland Williams, a linebacker as a ninth grader who is moving to running back for his upcoming sophomore season.
Bryce Scott, the younger brother of outgoing Bulldog, Rowdy Scott, is transitioning from offensive line to defensive line.
Marty Riley, another pup who could see action in the fall, is working as a slash-type player at running back and receiver.
The entire squad will be at work from Monday through Thursday during the second and third weeks of May. Unlike the other teams in the River Parishes who will face an opponent in a spring game, the Bulldogs will conclude drills with a controlled intra-squad scrimmage on May 17.
“I think with a 10-day spring (practice schedule) and you are trying to do a lot of teaching and learning to rush and prepare for somebody else, it takes away from your developmental time,” Jenkins said. “Really, I think that’s what spring needs to be about. You need to be about developing the technique and skills you will need to be successful. If you play another team, you have to give up some of that time to prepare for an opponent. We think it gives us an opportunity to focus a lot on us and really build on the things we need to be successful and not being worried about playing somebody else.”