The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

August 16, 2013

EHS keeps the mojo in first pad practice

ENID, Okla. — The start of full pad football practice arrived a few hours later than planned for the Enid Plainsmen, as rain and lightning forced the cancellation of midnight madness early Friday morning.

But by Friday afternoon, the rain and lightning disappeared and gave way to a bright, mild sunny Friday afternoon as the Plainsmen donned the pads, cranked up the intensity and got down to business with the crack of colliding shoulder pads reverberating through Selby Stadium.

Enid head coach Steve Chard said he “told the guys to keep their mojo up” after the decision was made early Friday morning to cancel midnight madness. And from all indications, the team followed his advice.

“It (the cancellation) was frustrating, but it was good too because it got all of us together,” said senior Aaron Beagle. “Everybody was pumped and I was jamming on my I-pod, and everybody was definitely hopped up.”

It was a sentiment echoed by fellow senior Alex Lofton. “It was disappointing. I came out (on to the field) a couple of times to see if it stopped raining. I got upset about it, but we did good today, so I am happy.”

Both Beagle and Lofton used the first day of padded practice to their advantage, making some nice plays in the early going with Beagle pulling down a couple of strikes from junior quarterback Freddy Lawrence. Lofton delivered on the other end, picking off a couple of passes.

Lofton said it was good to put the pads on again. “It’s not like it’s something new to me. I’ve been playing a long time.”

Lofton, who starred on Enid’s track team and is one of the fastest players on the squad, and possibly the state, has earned the nickname “smooth” for his route-running ability.

“Coach (Shawn) Mills gave me that name last year and the other coaches started calling me that,” Lofton said. The fleet-footed senior expects to split his time at wide receiver and cornerback, but admitted he prefers playing wide receiver because he likes scoring touchdowns.

“But the coaches say I’m better at corner,” he said

Lofton averaged 19.7 yards per catch in 2012, and was second on the team with three interceptions. He sees himself as a big-play threat because of his speed. “I want everyone to be like ‘Oh, there’s No. 2 (his number) ... watch out for him.”

Beagle also was glad to get out on the field in full pads and get back into competitive mode.

“It felt a little rusty, but we were getting the hang of it and the offense was getting warmed up,” said Beagle who led the team with four touchdown receptions last season. “I was making some catches, I was getting into it.”

He also showed some early fire after missing a pass, displaying a little frustration with himself at one point.

“I put a lot of pressure on me that I got to really catch everything,” he said.

Beagle, like Lofton will split time between wide receiver and cornerback.

As for the team’s performance on the first full day of padded practice, Chard said he saw what he expected.

“I thought it was real good. It was good to see who wants to get in there, stick there hand in there and get physical. Practice is not for shorts and helmets.

Every once in a while you see something you wished you didn’t, but it’s normal. The first day in pads is always a little disjointed.”

Chard said he liked what he saw out of Lawrence at quarterback.

“He is doing a really good job with seeing the half of the field the coaches want him to see and doing his checks,’’ he said. “We are not going to say read the entire field, nobody does that. There was one play today where had a one-on-one route and he went out there and hit it because the linebacker went out there and blew the coverage. He does a good job taking what the coaches give him.”

Chard also had praise for the backfield tandem of senior Raeshaan Finley and junior Raheem Mitchell who each had some strong runs Friday.

“They’re truly a one-two punch and totally different in the way they run,’’ Chard said. “Raeshaan, at 205 pounds, is faster than you think and Raheem, it’s hard find him. He’s a true sprinter. We feel good about running off tackle.”

Chard expects things to pick up more over the next few days.

 “We talked to the kids about the tempo of practice and the tempo will improve as we get going,” he said. “There were no negatives today. We just need to practice and get a little faster.”

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