The first two weeks of the Chadron State College spring football practices have gone well, the coaches report.
The sixth of the 15 practices that are allowed took place Monday. The spring game is set for April 13. Two more practices are slated after the game has been played.
“Our practices have been good ones,” Head Coach Jay Long said. “We’re on track. A lot of learning has been happening. We need to keep making progress and still have some areas we need to address, but I’m happy with what we’ve accomplished so far.”
Long said he’s particularly pleased with the jobs the Eagles’ new coordinators–Logan Masters for the offense and Craig Jersild for the defense–have been doing.
“They’ve got things rolling well,” Long said.
Long added that much of the focus on offense has been on the line, where three top-flight seniors from a year ago graduated and Austin Rapp, who started as a redshirt freshman last fall, is not participating in contact this spring following surgery at the end of the 2018 season, but is expected to be ready this fall.
“We’ve got a bunch of new faces in the line, but they’re working hard and learning,” Long said.
Masters said he’s been impressed by the improvement junior Jake Norris, who is 6-foot-5, 280 pounds, has been showing at offensive guard.
“He’s big and he’s been playing big,” Masters noted.
The new offensive coordinator also said sophomore Tyler Hyland has been impressive at quarterback, where the Eagles need someone prepared to back up two-year starter and potential all-star Dalton Holst.
The search is also on for players to provide depth at running back. Both Stevann Brown and Elijah Myles received plaudits while backing Academic All-American Kevin Coy last fall and have played well in the early sessions, Masters said. But more support is needed.
Two speedy backs who missed all of last season because of injuries, senior Priest Jennings and freshman Estabon Bozeman, are still recovering, but are expected to be at full speed this fall.
With all the top receivers from last fall returning along with standout Colt Foster, who was forced to take a medical redshirt, the Eagles are well stocked in that phase of the game.
But coaches are always looking down the pipeline to see what’s coming up. Masters said redshirt freshman Jahani Wright, younger brother of senior-to-be Tevon Wright, has caught his eye.
“Like most young players, he needs to become more consistent, but he’s got big play potential,” Masters noted.
On the defensive side, Jersild said he and his coaching assistants are emphasizing effort and technique.
“We’re coming along,” Jersild said. “We’re learning and trying to get better all the time. We want to play with great effort and make the ordinary things come naturally. We’re trying to develop more players who will be ready to help this fall.”
Jersild said a bright spot has been sophomore Dylan Marsh, who saw action in the secondary as a true freshman in 2017 but missed last season because of a hip injury that required surgery. Marsh has fully recovered and is getting back in the groove, the coach noted.
Several other defenders who saw some action last fall, but didn’t quite crack the Eagles’ primary rotation are getting more familiar with the strategies and becoming more productive, Jersild added.
Among those whose names he mentioned were defensive backs Cole Condon and Ethan Zimmerman, linebacker Lane Helgoth and lineman Emmit Rosentrader.
“There are others who also are coming along really well,” Jersild said. “I’ll make a list and we’ll mention them in the next story.”