By Malcolm Butler
The William Parkerson era started Monday morning as Cedar Creek opened official fall team workouts on their practice field as early morning rain brought cooler more bearable temperatures to north Louisiana.
According to Parkerson a total of 29 players are on the Cougars roster currently, although a few missed Monday due to some vacation conflicts.
“We are starting a week earlier than normal, and some of the families had vacations planned,” said Parkerson.
Creek opens its season at home in Week 1 against Glenbrook Academy on Friday, September 1. The Cougars face Mangham at the Bayou Jamb on August 26 at Rebel Stadium in West Monroe.
They have some work to do before those games roll around, according to Parkerson.
“It was fair to partly cloudy,” joked Parkerson when asked how Day 1 went. “I liked they were excited to be out there and ready to go. It just wasn’t as crisp as I would have liked it. It was kind of sloppy.”
Not surprising for Day 1 under a new coaching regime in Ruston.
“My goal was to teach them how we want them to practice,” said Parkerson. “I think that was an adjustment. We are trying to go faster and get a lot done in a shorter amount of time. Not a lot of standing around. Really trying to establish the temp of practice so they understand how we want it.
“It’s just one of those things where you have to get out there. We have been going over the schemes and they know what to do, but today was the first time doing it against other bodies. Trying to snap and block at the same time becomes more problematic than just snapping and stepping on air.”
The Cougars have plenty of holes to fill after graduating a number of its top players from a year ago. Senior Gray Worthey, who is slotted to see time on both running back and linebacker for Creek, said he was impressed with how opening day of team workouts went.
“It was a lot better than any practice I’ve ever been at,” said Worthey. “We had a lot more coaches to help out with stuff. It was definitely more in sync and rhythm. The defense was good. The offense is obviously going to be a little shaky on the first day. Other than that it was pretty good.”
Worthey will join Lawson Lillo and Alex Simpson at the fullback position while Lillo, James Myers and Noah Durrett will be at the slot back position according to Parkerson. The group will try to fill the void left by the graduation of all-everything tailback Lane Thomas.
“We have plenty of guys that we can rotate so we can stay fresh,” said Worthey. “Lane is a hard guy to replace, but we are going to try our best. We are going to have three dudes coming in and out so we can try to stay fresh and run the ball like we want to.”
There should be plenty of opportunities in the running game in the Creek style of offense as Parkerson said he thinks it fits the Cougars personnel from year to year.
“I think this offense suits our kids year in and year out,” said Parkerson. “There is a reason the military academies have run it for so long. We will always have a lot more running back type of kids than we will wide receiver type of kids. We have smart kids that are athletic so this allows them to use their brains as well as their athleticism. It’s what I grew up in and what I love.
“In this offense, the defense will dictate who gets the ball. It will be running back by committee. We are going to try to distribute the ball to a lot of people so that one person isn’t being counted on to do everything.”
Worthey said he feels the Cougars off-season program will help prepare them for the upcoming season.
“We have done a lot of speed training,” said Worthey. “It’s not really conditioning. More trying to get us faster and get our stride longer. Help us have better agility. Less on conditioning and more on actual speed work.”
The Cougars opened up fall practice a week earlier than most schools since they didn’t utilize spring ball due to the timing of the coaching change. Parkerson said this week would be instrumental in getting the Cougars up to speed.
“Huge. It’s huge,” said Parkerson. “Hopefully we can play a little catch up this week to people who have been together for a long time and who had spring ball.”
Creek will practice every morning this week except for Friday when the Cougars will workout later in the day.