The first football practice was worth the wait for College Station.
Cougars head coach Steve Huff opted for spring practices, which meant the first practices of the fall weren’t until Monday. The other Brazos Valley football teams started practice last week and are gearing toward scrimmages at the end of the week.
Huff said his team was able to better understand what the coaching staff expects from players at practice. The full staff also was able to work with incoming freshmen last week.
“I wouldn’t trade [spring practices] for anything in the world,” Huff said. “I like to come out of spring ball knowing where our young guys are and who are some of the guys that are going to step up.”
The Cougars are in a four-day acclimatization period and only practiced in helmets Monday. The first full day of contact can be Saturday, according to UIL regulations. College Station will host Temple at 6 p.m. Aug. 23 in its lone scrimmage. Huff appreciates the days without pads because he and his staff can take time to focus on teaching timing and speed.
“I think all the kids that were with us that went through spring ball understand that pace and level of practice that we’re looking for,” Huff said. “You don’t have to go searching and teaching that part of practice, so that’s nice. … They knew what to do at practice. They knew where to go, where to be, what to do. Obviously, we’re installing stuff, but the retention over the springtime was very high today.”
Huff said the Cougars dove in headfirst Monday, retaining a lot of knowledge from spring practices and 7-on-7. The Cougars have plenty of young players in key roles this year, and Huff says they’re adjusting well, in part because of spring practice and the leadership of the veterans. The real test for his team will come in an intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday, but Huff has been pleased with his senior leadership so far, saying they demonstrate a good tempo at practice and can take on a lot of work.
That starts with quarterback Austin Sosa, running back Kolbe Cashion, tight end Peyton Rusk and linemen Hayden Goodlett and Noah Hahn. Defensively, Marquis McCray, Mark Taplette and Christian Monroe help lead College Station.
“These guys are grinders,” Huff said. “They’re all workhorses. They go out and don’t mind whatever the conditions are, just go to work.”
Huff and his staff also use spring practices to identify areas of need for the upcoming year and experiment with position changes, looking for “golden nuggets.” Rusk is an example of that, moving over to tight end before last season and having an all-state year in which he led the Cougars with 40 catches for 518 yards and four touchdowns.
“We do have some kids who have played quite a bit of ball the last couple years,” Huff said. “There’s no doubt that that helps.”
First-year Rudder head football coach Eric Ezar was pleased with his team’s work ethic and responsiveness to the coaching staff through spring and summer workouts. That continued through the first week of practice for the Rangers.
“It really started in 7-on-7,” Ezar said. “We run our offense in 7-on-7, so our passing game’s really been put in. We’re in our second week of practice, so we have everything in. We’re just polishing stuff right now.”
The multiple offense was daunting at first, but Ezar said key players, including junior wide receiver Keithron Lee, running back James Ayers and quarterbacks Brant Roberts and EJ Ezar, have picked it up well. Combined with a small but quick defense, Ezar has high hopes for this season.
“We’re looking at playoffs,” he said. “It may be a little presumptuous, but we feel like we’ve got the team to do it. I feel like we’re going to surprise a lot of people this year. Our kids our hungry.”