According to first year coach Steven Ensminger, he has thrown a lot at his players during Cedar Creek’s spring practices over the past few weeks.
And on Friday, the Cougars will have an opportunity to “get better” as they travel to Red River High School in Coushatta for the spring game. Start time is set for 6:30 p.m.
However, win or lose, Ensminger said the spring game serves one purpose.
“It’s a spring game, and it’s a new offense,” said Ensminger. “And we’ve only installed about a quarter of it. We are going to make mistakes. That’s what spring ball is for. You don’t win a state championship by winning the spring game.
“It gives us a chance to say ‘Hey, we need to work on this and work on that during the summer.’ This spring game isn’t about winning or losing, It’s about getting better and competing. Just go out there and compete and get better.”
The Cougars return the nucleus of last year’s team that advanced to the Division IV playoffs while recording a historic win over Oak Grove High School and taking rival Ouachita Christian School down to the wire.
However, the acclimation process to a new head coach and a new offensive philosophy has been challenging during the past few weeks.
“It’s been a struggle,” said Ensminger. “But they have learned a lot. It’s been hard on them at times. It’s very very different from what they have been used to. But they are buying in. They are buying in and we are trying to find the right guys for the right positions. Some good days. Some bad days. Some tough days. But they have done everything I’ve asked of them.”
Ensminger specifically talked about his offensive specialists.
“Last year they did some things but I’m not sure they understood why they were running a route a certain way. It’s not just a hitch or not just a slant. We have some routes and concepts they aren’t used to. But they are bought it. The very next day they fix it. They are now understanding why they are running a route a certain way. They are learning football.
“And because a lot of these guys play defense too, it’s making them a better defensive player. They are starting to understand coverages on a more in-depth level. They are doing a great job. It’s impressive to see them buy in and see them learn it.”
Ensminger said today’s practice will be mostly a walk through in preparation for Friday’s spring game.
“We will come out here (today) and spend an hour just walking through things,” said Ensminger. “Learning and getting better. We have to get better every day. I tell them all the time that you are never going to not learn something if you care about the goal.”