For Mansfield Timberview, spring football means physical football. If you’re going to put on the pads, you’d better be using them.
“For us, it’s always been about being as physical a football team as we can be,” coach James Brown said. “We literally take those 15 days we have in pads and try to have as physical a practice as we can for those 15 days.”
Teams take all manner of different approaches to spring drills, but all of them will tell you it’s a vital opportunity for evaluation. For Brown, evaluation of how physical his players are ranks atop the list.
“A lot of these guys don’t understand the tempo and speed of the game on Friday night as opposed to Thursday,” he said. “We need to know, for the guys who haven’t played on Friday night, if they’re ready to compete on that level. If you just kind of run around and thump people, it’s not real conducive to being great in the fall.”
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The players don’t seem to mind “getting after it.”
“They go through the offseason when they’re lifting or running and there’s no contact,” Brown said. “The tempo is high and we’re always on them, and even though things are happening at a fast pace, it’s still not football. I think they’re hungry for it.
“Our kids expect it. It’s kind of an expectation of our program to be physical. Our kids really expect that when they come into spring ball. They know what it’s going to be like.”
Timberview wrapped its spring camp with its version of a spring game on May 23. The offense squared off against the defense under a special point system. Several players expected to be key contributors come September were held out due to injury or precaution, so Brown had ample opportunity to see some different faces.
“Both teams did really well; both sides had some high points,” Brown said. “ It’s really kind of a glorified conclusion to practice at the end of spring football. Our kids had a good time and we had a lot of community support out there. We saw the physicality we wanted to see in the spring game. We saw the tempo, energy and confidence. We saw the competitive nature of our guys.”
The Wolves aren’t lacking for leadership, said Brown, who noted strong leaders all over the field.
Receiver Jalen Knox, lineman Noel Ofori-nyadu and quarterback Jyron Russell have stepped up as leaders on the offensive side, while defensive linemen Keldrick Williams and Jacob Brown and linebacker Steven Lucas have taken charge on the defensive side.
“We haven’t had many issues with not having leaders this year,” Brown said. “I feel like those guys demanded a lot and had expectations of their teammates and really emphasized that throughout the spring.”
While Brown praised the strides made throughout the team, he noted the receiving corps specifically for its growth and development. There weren’t many surprises through the spring, which means Brown thinks he has a pretty good handle on his club at this point.
“The guys that we expected to be able to compete on Friday nights did that,” he said. “We feel comfortable where the program is now and where we’ll be entering next fall.”