For the second straight year, spring football practice for the Harrison County Thorobreds proved to something less than spectacular.
Last year, Ray Graham was on his way to retirement and new coach Aaron Stepp was not yet on board to take the reins. This year, Stepp resigned to accept the head coaching position at Franklin County and the next “new” coach, Mark Carroll was not yet hired.
“The assistant coaches did as good a job as could be expected with spring practice this year, but there just wasn’t a lot they could really do, not knowing who the next coach was going to be,” said Carroll.
Even with his squad being behind other teams that were able to have a more productive spring practice regimen, Carroll is more than pleased with what he has seen out of his first team at HCHS.
“I am very impressed with our overall athleticism and team speed,” said Carroll on Tuesday night. “To be honest, I have concentrated so much on trying to install our offense that there really hasn’t been much time to do much with our defense. But our defense has been most impressive in the passing league games we have played this summer.”
The Breds have played in several one-day passing league situations against Central Kentucky teams and have more than held their own, going 2-1 at Tates Creek last Tuesday and coming back to go 1-1-1 at Lafayette on Wednesday.
“I have never coached a team that has as much overall team speed as these guys,” said Carroll, who has been an assistant coach at East Jessamine and LCA over the last five years. “I’ve never coached at a school where you can move an outside linebacker to cornerback and have them be able to do the job. I really believe we’ll be a very good defensive team this coming season.”
Offensively, the Breds will need to find a way to replace three-year starter Van Isaac at quarterback and running back/tight end Aaron Newby.
“Those two guys were outstanding players and will be tough to replace,” said Carroll. “Right now we have three kids competing for the quarterback position and it is wide open. We won’t be able to identify who the starter will be until we get started later in July.”
Right now, those three vying for the top signal-caller position are Myles Wright, Joe Korona and Eric Lewis. Last year’s back-up quarterback, Jared Martin, has not participated in any summer football yet, as he is still playing baseball.
“That’s another thing that is really encouraging to me,” said Carroll. “We have competed right with some of the top teams in Central Kentucky and done it without the guys who are playing summer baseball. We expect those guys to join us when practice starts on July 20 and they will only make us that much better.”
Malcolm Thomas, Josh Moss, Jared Martin and Shane Fowler were all starters on last year’s team and have played baseball prior to the KHSAA mandated “Dead Period” that begins on June 25 and extends to July 9.
“Right now, our kids haven’t been in pads since the end of the last season,” said Carroll. “They are really antsy and want to have contact in practice. For that reason, we aren’t going to start practice until a week later than we can. We’ll get started in helmets only on July 20 and will get into full pads by July 30 or so. I don’t want to start any earlier than that, because I don’t want practice to get stale for them before we start the season.”
Carroll indicated that there would be a team/family picnic on July 19 to kick off the season. He also said that in lieu of leaving Cynthiana to attend a “camp” prior to the season starting, he would instead have a “camp” here this year.
“I intend to have a varsity camp here,” he said. “We’ll practice twice a day, then camp out in one of the school gyms so we can bond with the players, get up in the morning and go about our business again. I think we can get the same effect with virtually no cost to the parents. Maybe next year, we can arrange something where we go elsewhere for camp.”