By Jay Neal
Possibly the largest casting call this side of Hollywood continues to take play out daily on the campus of Lon Morris College.
The director of this project is LMC head football coach, Johnnie Richey, and his search is for talented players that will earn a spot onto the first Bearcat football team to take the field in over 60 years.
Around 200 hopefuls are divided into two groups for workout and evaluatory purposes with one bunch hitting the practice fields at 7 a.m. and the other getting started at 9 a.m. The groups work out five days a week, focusing on conditioning, agilities and weight training, under the watchful eye of Richey and members of the Bearcat coaching staff.
“We’ve divided them up into groups and we are going to let the competition determine who plays football for Lon Morris College,” Richey said. “We have been pleasantly pleased with the effort and of the quality of kids we have out here.
“When (the semester) began we didn’t know how many players would even actually show up, and we have had to send a few back home, but overall we are happy about the talent level of a lot of these kids.”
Despite a very wet fall, LMC has two brand-new grass practice fields that are nearly ready, which will enhance the practice program for the Bearcats.
The ‘Cats will be utilizing the old Jacksonville Recreation Center for their weight training complex as soon as renovations are complete and all the equipment is in place.
Richey has a full complement of assistant coaches — Wayne Larson, Michael Collins, Michael Finney, Patrick Gow, Donnie Hogg, Adam Kirby, Jay McCurty, Russell Patterson, Kyle Segler and Mike Thomas — in place now.
The Bearcat coaches are burning the midnight oil in continuing their efforts in the never-ending quest for top-quality talent.
“All of our coaches are out visiting with the high school (football) coaches in the area and watching practices in the afternoon,” Richey said. “We divide up on Friday nights and try to scout as many games as we can to get a first hand look at the high school players and hopefully we will find some that we think will make good football players at Lon Morris.”
In addition to working out the 200 or so football hopefuls already on campus, scouting prep practices and watching games on Friday night, many of the Bearcat assistants are also continuing to further their respective educations.
“We have about six coaches that are young guys that want to be college coaches and they are doubling up, taking classes towards earning their master’s degree,” Richey said.
Richey is excited about how things are progressing in re-establishing football at LMC and is really looking forward to spring 2010.
“The weather has slowed us down a little in getting some of our facilities ready, but otherwise, we are on track and in the spring we will be up with every other (junior college) football program with a formal spring practice,” Richey said. “This is an exciting time for Jacksonville and for Lon Morris College.”
By Jay Neal
- Local Sports
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