The Calhoun football team began spring practice on Monday, and the goals are simple — get a head start on the 2013 season and move on from 2012.
The Jackets come into the spring with a little different taste in their mouth from last spring as they were coming off a state title in 2011. This past December, they fell just a little short, falling to Jefferson in the Class AA State Championship Game at the Georgia Dome.
That feeling has caused the competition level to ramp up a little, and head coach Hal Lamb said he is happy with what he’s seen in the first few days of drills.
“I’m very encouraged,” said Lamb. “We are missing some kids who are still in track and baseball, but so far I’m really pleased with the effort and the way the guys are willing to be coached.
“They are doing the best they can this time of the year. It’s not a whole lot of fun at times, but we’re trying to make it fun.”
Spring is an opportunity for teams to hone their skills and get some positive momentum before heading into the summer workout program and eventually fall practice. Lamb said it’s not about trying to overwhelm the players with a lot of new things, but rather getting better at the basics.
“We are tinkering a little with some new stuff, but we’re going back to the fundamentals mostly which is blocking and tackling,” said Lamb. “We’re probably not going to install as much offense right now as we’ve had in the past. We want to get better at our base stuff, and that’s what were concentrating on because we have a few new quarterbacks.”
Taylor Lamb, who has been the starting quarterback the last two seasons, is no longer on the field as he will graduate in a few weeks. Upcoming senior Fields Chapman will have the best shot at earning the starting job heading into the fall, with rising sophomore Kaelen Riley also taking a lot of snaps.
“I’m really liking what I see from our quarterbacks,” said Lamb. “This is Fields’ time. He’s waited and worked his butt off. And Kaelen is going to be special in the next few years if he can continue to improve. We’ve got a few other guys too so I feel very strong about our quarterback situation.”
Lamb, an Appalachian State signee, is one of several impact players in last season’s senior class that will have to be replaced. Top receiver from last year Josh Barnes, who is headed to play at Air Force, and standout defensive back Donnell Anthony, who will play at Shorter, are a couple of other guys that leave big holes.
Lamb said that’s a big part of the spring as well, figuring out who is going to step up and fill holes.
“I think spring is more your younger kids to see where they are,” said Lamb.
“You see if they are ready for varsity action or if they need another year of JV. To me, that’s what we get more out of spring than anything. We know the returning starters can play, but this is a great opportunity for the younger guys.”
There’s not only a few new faces among the players but also on the coaching staff. George Hoblitzell takes over as defensive coordinator for the departed Ricky Ross. There are also two new assistants, Terry Morrow and Bill Long.
Lamb has said over the last few years that chemistry has had a lot to do with the success of his teams. He said that developing some chemistry and team unity is also on the agenda for this spring.
“I want us to build some chemistry while we’re here for these ten days because chemistry takes you a long, long way in this game,” said Lamb. “That needs to be our main focus along with x’s and o’s. You want to find leaders and see who’s going to step up and lead in that senior class which is very important.”
The Jackets will wrap up drills with their spring game on May 13 at 5 p.m. at Phil Reeve Stadium.
Sonoraville and Gordon Central will both begin their spring drills on Monday.