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|Football practice begins|
For many Ouachita Parish football fans there are, this next week is the most important one. Football practice for most teams begins Monday. The first games of the season are Friday, Sept. 5.
"We're ready and eager to go," said West Ouachita coach Mitch Thomas. "We've had great numbers in our weight room, and we are excited about getting started."
West Monroe coach Don Shows said just the opposite.
"Our numbers in our off-season program are down this summer," Shows said.
Shows didn't know why. There are more things for the players to get involved in now, could be one reason.
The Ouachita Lions have had similar problems this summer, but the team ought to be improved as well with three returning all-state starters and two all-district players coming back.
Ouachita coach John Carr is as puzzled as anybody over the downswing.
"We've only got 70 or 80 kids out in our junior high grades and we used to have that many in our ninth grade alone," Carr said. I don't know why this is. My guess is a lot of kids would rather stay inside and play with video games. Its very discouraging."
Carr said they had approximately 70-80 players out for the varsity this season.
"It's been hot, but they are working out well," Carr said. "But we still have to line up and play, regardless."
The key game for Ouachita should be the West Monroe contest, Sept. 24.
Ouachita Christian School coach Steven Fitzhugh said he didn't notice any change in his weight room activities this summer.
"Our guys are ready to get started," Fitzhugh said. The Eagles will be in conditioning drills this week, then put the pads on Monday. The season starts Sept. 5. The Eagles key game will be against its arch-rival St. Frederick the last of the season.
St. Frederick also starts practice Monday.
The Warriors have had what coach Paul Guerriero called a learning year last season and Guerriero expects better things in 2008. Even so, the Warriors still managed to get to the first round of the playoffs last year.
St. Frederick numbers have been about the same in the weight room as the practice session looms.
The Neville Tigers are hoping 2008 will be a breakthrough year as well. They've been unable to get to the Louisiana Superdome for the past several seasons. The first three years under coach Mickey McCarty it was John Curtis who was the stopper, but since Curtis had to go down to 2A, the last several years, Bastrop has been the culprit, not to mention 4A state champion.
Bastrop also has a 37-game winning streak going. Once again Neville will face Bastrop in District 2-4A on Oct. 24 in what will be a key game for both of the teams.
West Ouachita coach Mitch Thomas said his numbers for the freshmen in the weight room this summer were good.
West Ouachita had its best season ever last year and is looking for more of the same.
The Chiefs advanced to the second round of the playoffs, another first, before being dropped by Holy Cross 21-14.
The Neville Tigers say they have been running 30-40 younger players through the weight program this summer.
"We recorded that many going through the program every day," said Neville coach Mickey McCarty. "We're all anxious to get started with practice."