For the first day of practice, the sense of urgency was high as the Longview Lobos hit the field for the first official session of the 2019 season.
If there was one takeaway from the first day in shorts and helmets, it was that the clock is ticking.
“It’s always exciting to get back on the field — we had a good spring, productive summer and now we’re going to be playing for real,” Longview head coach John King said. “Before you know it, Week 1 and August 30 will be here.
“What we’ve got to do is get ourselves ready to play, concentrate on the Lobos and focus on what we need to do to get better.”
Both the experience and inexperience showed on the opening day for the 2018 state champions and the total product was the focus.
“They know they have a bullseye on their chest, so they’re going to have to go out and play,” King said. “2019 hasn’t won a game yet. We’ve got to put the best product on the field and that is what is important.”
King didn’t mince words following the long practice session in the August heat and quickly noted that it was hot everywhere, including Lufkin, where the Lobos open the 2019 season in under three weeks.
“We’re not going to win many games with what we saw today to be honest,” King said. “There were bright spots, of course, and it is day one but it wasn’t very good today.
“That comes with inexperience, youth and running around feeling sorry for yourself because you’re hot and tired. You’ve got to push through that stuff. That’s part of maturity, growing up and being a dog, as they say. When it comes to put up or shut up, we’ve got to go do it and let the fans do the talking. We need to do the playing.”
The work continues today in shorts and helmets as the Lobos work through the acclimatization period throughout the week, including the addition of shoulder pads on Wednesday and Thursday before the full pads come on in a intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday following media day.
“We need a little better effort, a little better focus and finish,” King said. “We started off okay and then everyone hit a lull.
“We don’t have time for that and we’ve got to do better than that. We can’t make excuses, it wasn’t good enough. They were told that and they know that. We don’t have time to waste but we do have time to improve and that starts (today).”
Here a few things to watch as the Lobos hit the field this week:
■ OFFENSIVE LINE: Easily the biggest area hit by graduation, the Lobos return three-year starter and Parker Cox and have limited experience around him. King said the goal is to find 10 players up front over fall camp. The tight end group of Jhailon Braden and Austin Pencheon were solid on Monday.
■ WIDE RECEIVER: Kaden Kearbey is back to lead a corps of players that can see the field, including Keith Halton, Kyas Moore and Phillip Washington. The group worked through some drops on Monday as they worked on their timing with quarterback Haynes King.
■ BACKFIELD: Markevion Haynes returned to the backfield after missing the bulk of his sophomore season with an injury and took the field alongside fellow junior Kaden Meredith. Both showed strong hands out of the backfield on Monday on a number of passes.
■ KICKING GAME: Another area where the Lobos look to find the guy after losing JK Martin, who punted just 12 times in 2018, to graduation. Haynes King worked punting duties while Spencer Powell, Carlos Vasquez and newcomer Raul Torres worked the kicking game, an area where the Lobos need to place every spot.