Rams knocking off the rust with spring practice

Published 11:26 am Friday, April 26, 2024

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The Valley Rams laced the pads back up and began to knock off some of the rust this week as the team returned to the practice field on Monday to begin its spring practice schedule. 

This early in the process, conditioning, energy and attitude are some of the most important aspects of practice. Most positions do not get decided during the spring as the roster could look completely different by the fall, but coaches do learn a lot about their players during this time period. 

Energy throughout the first few weeks of practice can be an issue, but Valley’s players have brought the intensity early on and seemed excited to be back on the gridiron. 

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“I think the kids came out fired up. They were ready to put the pads on, and they’ve been popping, hitting, and they’ve been getting after it pretty well,” Valley coach Adam Hunter said. 

The roster during spring practice can be pretty light with other sports being in season. The Rams are missing several athletes as track season and baseball season is still wrapping up. 

“We’ve got a lot of young guys out here at this first part of Spring because we’ve got guys working on track and baseball,” Hunter said. “Some of these young guys are stepping up and having to play and learn. That’s what the Spring is for. We want to move some folks around, put them in places and see if they can work.” 

Several of the young guys will have opportunities to play at some point this season with the large senior class that the Rams are replacing. 

At any rate, Spring serves as a test for the younger players. Some of those guys may not make the starting lineup, but they have the chance to show the coaching staff that they can be counted on if injuries and other situations arise.

“It helps build depth,” Hunter said. “It helps us along the way that we can feel comfortable putting somebody in if a player needs a break or somebody gets hurt. That’s why you do a Spring… That gives us some confidence in those kids that can be a backup role.” 

Several coaching staffs in the state and nationally have gone away from a traditional spring practice schedule, but Hunter and the rest of the coaching staff have emphasized its importance. 

Through Spring practice, Hunter wants to see how the players respond to the physicality of the game and fit the puzzle pieces together and see which players can fill different roles. 

Valley’s Spring practice is set to be three weeks long, three days a week, and the Rams will wrap up the Spring with a game against Eufaula on the road. 

“We’re not really worried about what we do in the Spring as far as going to play Eufaula and beating them,” Hunter said. “We want to focus on ourselves, get better and try to put people in the places where they’ll play best.” 

Several key positions will need to be filled during the Spring and Summer, but Valley’s main area of concern will be at quarterback. The Rams will need to replace Cam Dooley who is set to continue his playing career at Kentucky in the fall. 

Nearly 1,600 yards of offense is tough to replace, but Hunter is not looking for one guy to fill those numbers. Hunter wants a quarterback to play their role and not try to match Dooley. 

“We’ve got to find a quarterback, that’s going to be a key one,” Dooley said. “We’ve got to find a quarterback that we feel comfortable with, can run the offense [and] throw it a little bit. What they’ve got to understand is they’re not going to be Cam Dooley. They can’t fill those shoes. They’ve got to just go out and manage the offense. We’re going to have to grind it out a little more than we have been.” 

Valley has several options to put at quarterback. Galvin Goss has experience at the position heading into his senior season and has started on Valley’s defense since his freshman season. Kade Riley, Bryant Hopkins and Mason Yarbrough all have the opportunity to see snaps at the position. 

Several positions will be unknown leading into the fall, but the Rams should be solid at the line of scrimmage. The defensive line and offensive line are some of the most experienced groups, and Hunter expects those groups to be the most reliable on the team. 

“I think that’s our veteran group,” Hunter said. “They’ve really shown that they’ve matured, that they’re getting physical. You can win football games up front, so that’s a really good thing.”