Monday, April 4, 2016

The Leopards put on the shells in fourth spring practice Tuesday

Okay, spring football practices for the Lafayette football team will ramp up a notch on Tuesday afternoon when, after three days in jerseys and shorts, the Leopards add their shells to the "uniform."

For kicks, I thought I'd include the photo Coach Tavani took of me wearing a shell over my sweatshirt and sleeveless vest. All that extra bulk failed to make me look like the latest rendition of Luke Chiarolanzio, right?

We thought maybe The Morning Call would be amused enough by it to run the photo with my spring football preview. Well, maybe Frank thought that, but I was almost certain it wouldn't make the paper.

In hindsight, I should have taken a photo of FRANK wearing the shell. Now, that's something they might have gone for in the office.

I haven't been in practice since opening day, so I called Coach Tavani today (Monday) for an update.

Coach has been very happy with a schedule that calls for practices Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday and weight training on Monday-Wednesday-Friday. He figures he's getting the best of both worlds from this arrangement. Practices are focused on improving techniques without killing one another, and the weight training keeps strength and conditioning guru very happy.

But he said he's looking forward to adding the shells Tuesday. "They'll get after it," he said of his players, but stressing that the "after it" may consist mainly going going hard for three steps or so for the linemen, who will be asked to break things off before the real slugfests begin.

"It'll take people working together," Tavani said of the different approach to spring workouts. But he said of the first the days, "I'm pleased with the pace and the energy. Guys are really flying around." The only injury last week was a "tweak" of a knee by wide receiver Connor Goss. It was not a sprain, Tavani said, so Goss will be OK.

Coach was asked about players who have impressed and he mentioned three projected defensive starters, including two who missed part of last season with injuries -- linebacker Michael Root, who would have made a strong challenge for the spot in the middle a year ago; and a pair of guys who started games as freshmen (Jerry Powe, who is expected to the the Strike linebacker-D-back hybrid, and safety Kaizer Butler, who played four games before being hurt.

A pair of tackle rings must have been a success, because Tavani said two more may be purchased. I don't know whether they'll make it before the end of spring or be used in preseason camp in August. "We're putting a lot of emphasis on wrapping up" in  using the rings, which are rolled in motion by a coach and then tackled by linebackers and d-backs.

I asked about team captains for 2016, and Coach T said he's been scrutinizing the group but hasn't yet come to a decision. "I've been giving it some thought, but at this point, an announcement might not come before the end of spring. We'll see about that." The senior class includes only about a dozen guys, and the only fourth-year guys listed on the first unit at this point are quarterback Drew Reed, fullback Kyle Mayfield, wide receiver Tim Vangelas and guard Connor Staudle on offense and end Collin Albershardt, tackle Matt Rothrock and safety Draeland James on defense.


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