Callaway head coach Pete Wiggins wasn’t at practice Tuesday, but he had a pretty good excuse.
Wiggins is a new dad after his wife Amy had the couple’s second child, so on Monday and Tuesday, he turned the coaching duties during practice over to his assistants.
One of those coaches, defensive coordinator Dusty Hubbard, said it has been a productive week for the Cavaliers, who wrapped up their third day of preseason practice on Tuesday.
The team will hold two more days of non-contact practices before the players put the pads on and start hitting on Friday.
According to the Georgia High School Association, teams must have five practices before they can hold their first full-contact practice, and none of those first five practices can exceed two hours.
“We’re staying on a tight schedule. But it’s been good,” Hubbard said at the close of Tuesday’s practice session. “For what you can do in a helmet, I’ve been pleased with our guys. I think our effort’s really good. A lot of time when we go to the wrong place, we give good effort. If you can give good effort, we’ll teach you the rest.”
Hubbard’s primary concern during practice is getting his defense ready for a new season.
A stingy defense was a key reason the Cavaliers made it to the final four in Class AAA last season, but there are some major holes to fill on that side of the ball.
“We lost some good guys on the defensive line, and our will linebacker. And we’ve got a couple of new safeties as well,” Hubbard said. “But we’re getting there. Every day is getting a little bit better. They’re getting a feel for how we want to practice. That’s the biggest thing. You add a whole new crop of ninth-graders. They’re not really familiar with the speed of practice yet. We have to shape them up.”
Hubbard said while this first week is important, he’ll get a much better idea of what the players can do when they start hitting on Friday.
“From a defensive standpoint, there’s only so much you can do. You have to figure out who’s not scared of contact,” Hubbard said. “And that’s for special teams as well. We can run down the field and work on lanes on the kickoff and all that, but until guys put pads on and you can tell who’s aggressive and who’ll hit somebody, you really don’t know.”
This is still an important week, though, as the coaches looked to implement the offensive and defensive playbooks.
The hope is that by Friday, the players will have a firm grasp on everything.
“Your goal is to have your base stuff in by the time you have your pads on. You can get out here and run, and add stuff as you go,” Hubbard said. “We’re close. I think by the end of Thursday we’ll have most of our stuff in, from our base standpoint. And hopefully we’ll be able to come out on Friday and be able to play fast and get after it.”
The Cavaliers will hold their first full-contact practice at 6 p.m. on Friday.
“It should be fun for the guys,” Hubbard said. “They always look forward to the first day in pads.”
Also on Friday, the Cavaliers won’t have to limit themselves to a two-hour practice, although Hubbard said the session probably won’t be much longer than that.
“We’ll probably go until 8:30 or so,” Hubbard said.
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 (ext. 232) or on Twitter @lagrangesports