As time winds down on Holtville’s spring practice period, the Bulldogs are getting ready to get back on the field to see how they stack up in a competitive game for the first time this year. Holtville hosts Prattville Christian on Friday night to wrap up the spring season and coach Jason Franklin is ready to see which players will quickly step up.
“We’re looking for guys to come out and compete,” Franklin said. “We want to see some great energy and to see them buy in to this team. You have to work with everyone to be successful.”
Holtville is coming off its most successful season since 2010, winning seven games and returning to the postseason. The Bulldogs hope to build on that momentum but Franklin said that season is in the past and this year is a new challenge.
“Now it’s expected,” Franklin said. “You’ve been there and experienced some success but now you have to raise it to another level. We didn’t finish some things last year that we should have.”
The Bulldogs return both quarterbacks from their dominant passing attack last season. Drake Baker will return after tearing a ligament in his throwing elbow early in the 2018 season and he will be joined by Braxton Buck, who threw for more than 2,000 yards during his sophomore season.
“It’s been good to be back out here,” Baker said. “We’re just trying to see what we look like this early. It’s been fun though and we’ve had a whole lot of energy.”
Franklin said both quarterbacks will likely see plenty of playing time behind the center as the coaching staff works on schemes to get both into the game. However, the Bulldogs will need to replace their top three receivers from last year and Franklin said that has been a focus during spring practice.
“We’ve got to fill some at the receiver spots and plug some holes on the defensive side,” Franklin said. “There’s a lot of moving pieces.”On the plus side, Holtville appears to have the numbers on its side. After having 55 players listed on their roster last season, Franklin said the Bulldogs have had 70 to 75 players in spring practice this week.
“That’s a little bit different for us,” Franklin said. “It can be a challenge for the coaches to make sure we’re planned out and organized but it’s a good problem to have. This week has been about making sure we have the guys at where they fit in.”
While numbers can fill some of the gaps, the Bulldogs are looking for players to step up to fill into the vacated leadership roles. Franklin said finding those players is the top goal during the spring period.
“We have to find some leaders now,” Franklin said. “The torch has been passed on from last year. We have a whole new group that has to be responsible for this team.”