Jacksonville Daily Progress
When the Jacksonville Fight'n Indians open fall camp at 8 a.m. Monday morning, they will be operating at a completely different level from in past years.
That's because for the first time in ages the Tribe went through spring practice back in May, and having those 18 workout sessions under their belts should make the Indians a better team and one that is ahead of the curve in many ways, according to the team's head coach, Chris Taber.
“When we open up on Monday we will have the kids in the places that we feel that each of them can help us the most,” Taber stated. “We spent the time coaching them up in the spring and that is behind us now.”
Jacksonville graduated in the neighborhood of 30 lettermen from last season's 4-7 team, which makes the Indians one of the least experienced teams in District 16-4A.
“We do have a lot of young kids this year,”Taber said. “And, again, the spring practices have really helped those guys in the learning process.
“But at the same time we will have to grow up fast, we realize that. By playing Carthage, Palestine and Gilmer right out of the gate, our kids are going to have to adjust to the (varsity) speed of the game in a hurry and it may take a game or two for them to where they need to be.”
One thing that Taber is practically giddy about is the team's dept this year, which was a shortcoming of the 2012 squad.
“The blessing is our depth,” Taber said. “Last year we were talented, but we just didn't have the numbers that we needed (to prevent many players from being two-way starters).
“This year we are two to three deep across the board, which lets us breath a sigh of relief, because all teams are going to get nicked up and have to deal with injuries.”
Taber said he anticipated the Tribe varsity carrying about 15 players more than the team had last year.
“We had a large freshman class last year and those kids have moved up in the system and we have been able to increase our numbers because of that,” Taber said. “The extra depth will really help us on offense where we will be two deep this year. We really need that because of the up tempo offense that we run. We will have the personnel to get kids off of the field and make adjustments and let them get a shot of water, and we couldn't always do that last year, because a lot of those kids had to play defense too.”
An example of the Tribe's bevy of bodies can be found at wide receiver where Taber said that Jacksonville has eight “good” receivers, with only four of those guys playing on the defensive side.
Indians add quarterback coach and get services of former JT assistant
Jacksonville has added an offensive assistant this year, with former Luling High School offensive coordinator Logan Cordes being hired as the Tribe's quarterback coach.
Indian defensive coordinator Mike Waldie and assistant coach Mike Eckles also previously worked at Luling, prior to arriving on the reservation last season.
“We wanted to bring Logan in last year and it just didn't work out,” Taber said. “We are excited about having him up here now and by him working with the quarterbacks, that will free me up to be able to float around and help out where ever I'm needed during a game, so it really gives us more coaching flexibility.”
Another new assistant coach that Taber spoke highly of is Gerald Norman, a 2003 graduate of John Tyler High School, who went on to become a defensive assistant at his alma mater.
“Gerald Norman comes from a big time program and I like the fact that he knows how to win,” Taber said.”He's come in here and has meshed well with our staff.”
Norman will handle the defensive secondary, taking over for Corey Spoon, who accepted a job at North Forney High School during the off season.
Taber said that he has also promoted Morgan Guidry and Colby Jackson from the Jacksonville Middle School coaching staff.
“Coach Guidry and Coach Jackson did a great job at the middle school last year and I felt they were deserving of a promotion to the varsity level,” Taber said. “One will work on the defensive side and the other will help out on offense.”
Sam Brandt is back as offensive coordinator/offensive line coach.
Taber said that he will continue to handle the play calling duties on Friday nights.
NOTE: The Indians will work out twice in the morning/early afternoon in shorts and t-shirts this week, before suiting up in pads for the first time on Friday...Jacksonville will have just one scrimmage this year as a result in taking part in spring drills...The Indians will travel up to Bullard on the evening of Aug. 22 for freshmen, junior varsity and varsity practice games against the Panthers...Kick off time for the 9th grade affair is tentatively set for 5 p.m. and is subject to change.