With 24 wins in the last two seasons, the Wetumpka football team has drawn more attention from around the state and that was evident during the first days of spring practice. There were a handful of reporters and cameras on the sidelines Thursday as the Indians got their spring period started and that excitement has carried over to the players on the field.
“It has been great to be back out here,” Wetumpka coach Tim Perry said. “Energy has been great. We’re not in practice shape yet so we start off with a lot of energy and it drops off some but that will come once they get in football shape.”
Wetumpka will be looking to win its third consecutive region championship and that work starts in the spring. The Indians lost plenty of production from last year’s team which went to the state semifinal but Perry said there is a lot of talent ready to fill the void.
“The main thing is that we want to look at the guys who were in backup roles last year and how they have progressed,” Perry said. “Can they challenge for a starting position or has their skill set changed for a different position? Those are the things we have to look at.”
One of those players who is looking for a bigger role this season is Terrance Thomas. He rushed for more than 1,000 yards last season but often took a back seat to De’Angelo Jones, specifically in the power running game.
Thomas sat out the team’s first two practices while at the track state championships in Gulf Shores. However, Thomas returned for his first practice Monday and quickly got involved in the offensive drills, running as the key running back in the power groups and as a speed back.
“I was ready to get back home,” Thomas said. “All I have been thinking about was getting out here and ready to play football. I was excited.”
While his role on the field could see some slight changes, Thomas is taking
it upon himself to take on a leadership role during his senior season. Returning to the practice field was more about being around his teammates than getting himself more touches.
“We’re going to have a pretty good team,” Thomas said. “I want to be a leader and try to get everything situated this early. I want everybody to fly around and have that energy from the start of practice until the end.”
Perry and the coaching staff have been looking for leaders to step up ever since the last season finished. They knew several vocal leaders will need to be replaced but Perry said it is about more than just talking.
“Even back in the weight room, that’s what we look for,” Perry said. “We’re looking for guys who can step up and be leaders. We’re looking for those vocal leaders but also the ones who can step up in that second hour of practice when that fatigue hits.”
One of the main focuses of the early practice was seeing who would be taking snaps with the first-team offense. Tyquan Rawls was named to the ASWA All-State team after playing quarterback last season but he is often seen as a defensive back recruit and could move back to that position when needed.
Rawls was still taking most of the snaps with the number ones on offense but the Indians worked in a number of different players into the quarterback role. While Gauge Parette and Robert Rose have done most of their work with the quarterbacks, Perry is looking at Brandon Bowman to be the key reliever for Rawls if he is ever needed.
“We want to look at him real hard this spring at receiver and quarterback,” Perry said of Bowman. “We want to use his skills at both positions so if we do need Ty in the secondary, we can turn the offense over to Brandon and have confidence in him.”
Wetumpka will wrap up its spring period May 17 with a trip to Troy to play Paul Bryant. The game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. kickoff at Veterans Stadium on the college campus.