EARLY — Coming off their best season of head coach Blake Sandford's tenure, the Early Longhorns will hit the field for the first time Friday night in scrimmage action against the Goldthwaite Eagles, led by new head coach Keith Virdell.
Subvarsity action is slated to begin at 5:30 p.m. in Goldthwaite, according to Sandford, with the varsities set to hit the field at 6:30 p.m. The varsity format will feature 15 plays each for the first and second units, followed by 10 plays apiece for all squads. No live quarter is planned.
The scrimmage will conclude the second week of preseason practice for the Longhorns, and Sandford is pleased with the progress shown thus far.
“Myself and the coaches feel good about the teaching level and the retention from last year on the offense and defense, as well as everything we've put in and installed,” Sandford said. “That part has been pretty good. The kids' energy level and attitude have been really good. I'm pleased with the senior leadership and coach-ability, they have great attitudes and are bringing great effort. We still need to be getting into better shape, though, and I'm looking to see that as we progress through the scrimmages.”
The Longhorns posted a 4-6 record last year, while Goldthwaite mustered a 1-9 mark. Despite the Eagles' struggles from a year ago coupled with a new coaching staff installing their schemes, Sandford believes Early will receive a significant challenge.
“Goldthwaite is certainly going to come after us and go at it hard,” Sandford said. “It's going to be a different speed from what we've been doing in practice. We need to work on our execution level and also when someone else is trying to hit us in the mouth we have to be able to overcome that and be able to play hard.”
Sandford said there wasn't any particular positions he would be looking at more than others, but that the entire roster would be evaluated.
“We're going to keep an eye on every position,” Sandford said. “At this infancy stage of the season we want to make sure we have everybody in the right position for their own success and for the success of the team. We want to make sure we get everyone on film so we can do a great job of evaluating everybody and seeing what we need to work on. It's a tool to use in both a positive and negative light. If we're doing something right we want to congratulate the kids, and if there's something we need to work on it's something we want to be able to correct.”