Bearcats in perfect position for start of football

The Whitesboro Bearcats wrapped up their summer workouts this week before officially beginning football season Monday, Aug. 3, after the UIL recently announced that schools Class 1A through 4A could begin the season on time.

The Whitesboro Bearcats are a few days away from officially starting football season, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t still been grinding away.

For the past several weeks, the Bearcats have moved into the team portion of their workouts. Last week was all defense and this week was a split between defense and offense.

Whitesboro athletic director Cody Fagan said everything has gone to plan recently.

“I’m really pleased with the installation of the new terminology and everything we’re doing in that area,” Fagan said. “Kids are really figuring it out and it’s really clicking so it’s going to go way smoother when we get to Aug. 3. We’ll have to spend way less time coaching the scheme itself and more time for the kids to do what they need to do. They won’t have to think as much. It was a really good week with lots of numbers.”

This week for the athletes was important mentally so they could spend more time getting ready physically next week as they move into padded practices, according to Fagan.

“We’re way ahead of where I’ve normally been Aug. 3,” Fagan said. “It lessens the load mentally so we can be more physically ready. We want to make sure they can play good contact football at a high level. We had two days of offense and two days of defense this week and as coaches, we’ll rest a little easier that the kids won’t have to spend all this time learning schemes. As a 3A school, it’s been eight months since they’ve done in-depth football stuff.”

Fagan said he feels lucky he didn’t have to adjust his schedule due to the recent University Interscholastic League rules that prohibited some teams from starting on time.

“Right down the road, Gunter had to change their schedule a bit and it hit people around us,” Fagan said. “Obviously it’s good for us. During that scramble last week, it almost felt like a realignment week for a lot of coaches. For us, we got to stay focused on our kids and summer pride and making sure we’re doing all we can to avoid this COVID stuff.”

Knowing that the start of the season is just around the corner, Fagan said it’s awesome and that he and his coaching staff are doing all they can to prepare the facilities for the athletes.

They are all getting on the same page with the safety protocols and all 25 coaches have pitched in to paint the athletic facilities, move the locker rooms around and knock out the little projects.

More than anything, Fagan said it was important for all his coaches to get to know each other and he said there’s no better way than getting their hands dirty together.

“We’re right in that grind where we’re knocking out projects and we’ve got all the equipment issued to the athletes,” Fagan said. “The vast majority of our kids are in shape and ready to go. It’s a good feeling and as odd as it sounds, it’s almost starting to feel normal headed into a football season. Obviously it’s not going to be normal with the kids wearing masks and all that, but it’s starting to feel normal.”

As Fagan and the Bearcats turn their attention to next week, the acclimation period for them to get used to wearing helmets and pads is imperative before they have their first scrimmage in a few weeks.

“The first part of the week will be getting used to a two- or three-hour practice compared to the hour we have been doing,” Fagan said. “We want to make sure we’re introducing special teams and make sure we’re good on all three phases of the game. We’ve got a whole lot of kids that grasp the game mentally, but we want to find out physically if they can accomplish what they want to do. We want to find out who will hit you and who won’t and that’s really what will decide on who plays and who doesn’t.”

Fagan said every coach has ideas of who will win each starting job, but because Whitesboro has such a young team, padded practices will be huge moving forward.

“The reality is nobody knows who can translate knowing what to do to actually doing it,” Fagan said. “It comes down to who will not be afraid to hit you.”

The night before the start of two-a-day practices always has Fagan tossing and turning in his bed, but he said it’s always one of the most anticipated days of the year.

“It’s going to be different, but we’re just thankful we’re allowed to have it,” Fagan said. “I keep in the back of my mind that a few weeks ago that it was still iffy as to whether or not it will happen. We’ve got to do our best as a coaching staff to make those memories they’ll have. Once you start that first Monday, you don’t realize that it’s been three or four weeks. It goes fast. We tell the kids to enjoy the moment and when you look back as a kid, those practices and weightlifting sessions are what you’ll remember.”

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