There was a chill in the air Monday morning as football players from all around the state gathered together for the first official practice of the season.
It was no different in Clinton where dozens of prospective River Kings football players took the field.
“We’re focused on doing the little things right,” Clinton coach Lee Camp said. The River Kings worked on plays during their opening practice after having good attendance at football camp and 7-on-7 drills over the summer.
“We want to make sure they have the gist of the offense and any changes we might have made or the points of emphasis,” Camp said. “We get the chance to do that now. These guys get to help teach the other ones, which helps reinforce what they’ve learned.”
Clinton is going without pads the first three days of practice and Camp said he wanted to install a lot of things in that time.
“Thursday will be a step back mentally, because it will be the first day in full pads,” he said. “But we have the goal by Saturday, offensively and defensively, to reach a certain point.”
The River Kings are entering the second year of a new offense that puts a lot of emphasis on quarterback Will Carr and the offensive line. Camp said he was pleased with what he saw on Day 1.
He said Carr looked sharp throwing after working in the offseason.
“The biggest difference is in his leadership,” Camp said of his senior quarterback. “He’s commanding the offense and he has a real confidence.”
Camp said he was also pleased with the line’s performance on the first day.
“Their retention-level was good,” he said. “I was pretty pleased with that. It takes a lot of repetition to get it right. But they know what we’re talking about. It seemed to go a lot better.”
The River King players also arrived for the first day of practice ready to play.
“We challenged them to come in in condition,” Camp said. “We’ve been impressed. The days of years ago when kids came in out of shape — after not doing anything cardiovascular all summer — all gone.”
There are certainly drills that incorporate running, but Camp said he thought being able to work on skills all practice instead of devoting time each day to conditioning would really pay off.
As far as the depth chart goes, Camp said the coaching staff had to make a tentative one to simply put the players into groups at this early stage.
“Once we put the pads on, we’ll really re-evaluate that,” he said. “We have a general idea, but it’s a work in progress. We have a couple kids who are new to the system and I tell them to be patient. They’re behind by a week or so because kids who were here previously have knowledge of the system. But it’s subject to change.
“Plus every year, we have a couple kids who show up ready to play. Then it’s, ‘Where did they come from?’”