By Chris Brooks for The News Examiner
The Blue Devils took momentum – and enthusiasm – into the start of fall practice.
“After all the running and conditioning we did, now it’s time to put the pads on and see who’s ready to step up and play,” White House senior offensive guard Tyler Gardner said. “We’re ready for our season to start. We’re ready to mix it up with some other teams. We are looking forward to this year.”
White House head coach Jeff Porter knows exactly how much time the team has to find replacements for its departed starters from last season’s quarterfinal squad.
“It’s a brand-new team … that’s what’s exciting,” Porter said. “We have to play in 32 days. We don’t have a lot of time.”
The Blue Devils do have more time than a considerable amount of teams that open play in week zero. White House doesn’t begin the regular season until one week later, with a game at Portland on Aug. 29.
The Blue Devils practiced in full pads on Monday morning before going out for a three-hour session in just shorts and shoulder pads during the afternoon session.
White House has made three consecutive quarterfinal appearances, but the Blue Devils are filling numerous vacancies as they return just three starters on offense and four on defense, though senior placekicker Dillon Anderson and junior punter Logan Trimmer also return.
“The next two weeks will probably tell a lot,” Porter said. “The big thing right now is simply applying whatever is going on in practice to letting you get better as a player and letting it help the team.
“We have to make strides every day. When you have as few back as we do, you don’t have any wiggle room to not make progress.”
Gardner is one of those returning starters.
“I think there’s going to be a lot of competition,” Gardner said. “We have three starting offensive linemen coming back from last year (including senior offensive tackle Kyle Cantrell and junior offensive guard James Whitby). A lot of our DBs (defensive backs) from last year are back. We have a lot of leadership on and off the field.
“I think it’s going to be interesting to see who’s going to play where and to see who’s going to be out here on the field on Friday nights.”
All three of the Blue Devils’ preseason scrimmages are on the road, at Adamsville on Friday, at Goodpasture next Tuesday and then at Hendersonville on Tuesday, Aug. 12. Those road contests could prove beneficial as three of White House’s first four games are away.
“The last two weeks have been really positive for us,” Porter said. “They’ve been trying to do what we’re asking them to do.”