Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

May 13, 2014

Wildcats keep fire burning as practice continues

VALDOSTA — With three days of spring practices for the Valdosta High Wildcats football team complete, the Wildcats' main focus is keeping their energy up at practices.

“We’ve had three great practices but we just weren’t quite as sharp today,” said coach Rance Gillespie. “It’s not that our kids did not give effort or anything like that. I don’t want to portray that at all, because they gave great effort, but it was just a little vibe that wasn’t quite there like it had been for the first three days.”

With a barrage of hard hits, pass deflections and good tackling, the defense was certainly the star of Monday’s practice however. Cornerback Joshua Norwood returned to practice after missing the first practice on Thursday due to a track meet and jumped right back into football mode, covering well in 1-on-1 drills. Linebackers Terrell Roundtree and Tayvon Westley are both showing that they’re ready to become senior leaders on the defense, making nice defensive adjustments before the snap and laying down a few big hits as well.

“We were still pretty physical today. We did some good things, but it feels like we were just missing a little bit of an edge,” said Gillespie.

The “missing edge” that Gillespie was looking for was not achieved by the offense however. With top receiver Alex Cason headed to Marshall in the fall, the remaining wide receivers struggled to catch in traffic on Monday, and were consistently knocked off their routes by the Wildcats defense.

A big focus for the Wildcats this summer will be to find a receiving threat to take over the duties of Cason. That will be hard to do, especially with the third leading receiver from last year’s team, Khalil McClain working at quarterback this spring. Receivers Ricco Ramsey and Kaleb Whitfield are now seniors and will be the first choices to become the new No. 1 receiver.

Working at the quarterback position once again on Monday was McClain, who needed a bit of encouragement from coach Gillespie after a tough practice for him, watching many of his passes get deflected or get dropped. However Gillespie knows that the extra practice time is nothing but good.

“With the baseball guys out, we’re 10 guys down. The positive about that however is we’re able to get a lot of guys in to get more reps that they might not have had gotten a chance to get otherwise. It’s building our depth,” said Gillespie.

The Wildcats have three more practices before they play their annual spring game. Wildcat practice begins today at 4 p.m. and will resume Thursday and Friday at 4 p.m. after a day off on Wednesday.

On Saturday, Valdosta Middle school and Valdosta High will combine to showcase their talent from sixth graders all the way up to varsity on Cleveland Field at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium. Sixth graders will play at 3:30 p.m. followed by seventh grade at 4 p.m., eighth- and ninth-grade at 5:30 p.m. and lastly the varsity will take the field at 7:30 p.m.

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