By T. Scott Boatright
Football practice is a tough thing in these blistering hot dog days of summer in Lincoln Parish, especially for younger players.
After struggling through defense-oriented practice on Tuesday, the Lincoln Preparatory School football team responded with a stronger practice on Wednesday as they continued preparations for Friday’s jamboree at Glenbrook High School in Minden.
The Panthers will open with a quarter against the host-school Apaches at 6 p.m. Friday before following that with a quarter against Ringgold High School.
“We looked much better today than yesterday,” Panthers coach Glen Hall said Wednesday. “It was a fast-paced practice for a shorter length of time. We only went for about an hour and a half. But the team looked much better today.”
Hall said such sporadic practices are only to be expected in the midst of a heat wave like the one north Louisiana is currently experiencing.
“At least for the young kids, that’s just the way it works,” Hall said. “They’re still learning to fight through it. And some of the heat we’ve had recently has been unusually hot. But that’s what we needed to see today after they looked so sluggish on Tuesday just dragging through practice.
“They came out stronger and more focused today, and that’s something we needed to see from the entire team and especially the younger guys. That shows they’re learning and growing as football players.”
One Panther who Hall said stood out Wednesday was junior fullback D’Tavian Wright, who had been slowed in recent practices.
“He had been nicked up a little bit, but he’s back to 100% out there today at fullback,” Hall said about the junior that started as a linebacker for the Panthers last year. “I’d been kind of holding back with him trying to let him get healthy, but he went at it full speed today and looked really good today.
“Wright’s going to play a big role for our offense,” Hall said. “If we can get any kind of running game with Jaylin Huntley in there and D’Tavian blocking for him, and then use D’Tavian to mix things up with traps and dives and that kind of inside running back, he’s a big part of what we do on offense. We can also move him back to tailback — he’s our No. 2 tailback — and put Marvin Johnson in at fullback, so we have a good group of backs we can alternate in and out and mix things up offensively.”
Glenbrook and Ringgold are familiar foes for Lincoln Prep — the three schools competed in the same district two seasons ago and the Panthers played their 2023 spring scrimmage game at Ringgold.
But both the Indians and Apaches will enter the jamboree of first-year new head coaches, which Hall said could take away from the familiarity that the Panthers at least had with those two teams.
“The fact both have new head coaches changes things up some,” Hall said. “I hear the new Ringgold coach has changed up a lot of things. We didn’t get any film on them, but with new coaches you kind of have to throw the old film out of the window anyway.”
Hall also has an eye on the health of center Jamion James, who has been nursing a calf strain.
“We’ll see if he’s good to go on Friday,” Hall said. “What we need most is for him to be healthy for the season opener, so we’ll just see how it goes and take it from there.”
Hall said there’s one primary thing he’s looking for in the scrimmage.
“I need to see us go out there and play hard,” Hall said. “I’ll have a big eye on our defense because we’re missing some guys on that side of the ball, but the kids we do have out there are going to have to play. That’s just the bottom line and could go a long way toward our depth on that side of the ball as we move into the season.”
The Panthers will go through a walk-through today before kicking off the jamboree on Friday.
“We’ll see what we’ve got left,” Hall said. “We’ll see if the tank is empty or full as we prepare to move into the first pregame week of the regular season.”