There is no doubt about what Elmore County football coach Jordan Cantrell brings to the practice field. His intensity can be heard from the parking lot and he was hoping to see that same quality in his team as spring practice got started Monday afternoon.
“We’re just looking for guys to step up,” Cantrell said. “We’re looking for hard-working guys who want to hit people. We’re not worried about the skill right now; we just want to see some people who want to block and tackle.”
The Panthers are coming off their winningest season since 2015 but fell short of the postseason for the seventh consecutive season. The program will lose a bulk of its production to graduation later this month and it is looking for leaders to step up over the next two weeks.
Despite the lack of key returners, Cantrell said there is no difference on how he and his coaching staff are starting the season. He said he starts every year the same way by teaching each player the basics and making them earn a spot on the team.
“Everything is open,” Cantrell said. “Every year we start from scratch like they don’t know anything.”
With just 10 days of practice available to the team, the Panthers quickly got started with positional drills during the opening hour of practice Monday. Cantrell worked with the offensive and defensive line as he looked for that early contact while walking the players through blocking schemes.
During the spring period, there will not be many complications to the practice according to Cantrell. He said the focus has to be on getting back into football shape and that means more than stamina.
“We’re just looking to teach them the proper technique,” Cantrell said. “It’s technique over scheme right now. How to block, how to tackle, how to throw, how to catch, those are the things we’re looking for.”
While those things seem like the obvious things to look for on a football field, Cantrell said it is about more than finding the players who can do it once. Cantrell wants to see players show they are willing to work to get it all right from the start of practice until the end.
“I just want to find workers,” Cantrell said. “That’s it.”
The Panthers will hit the road next Friday for a jamboree to wrap up the spring season. Elmore County will travel to Southside Selma for a 6 p.m. kickoff.