The early bird gets the worm, and Brock was ready to soar high Monday morning as the Eagles hit their strength and conditioning at 7 a.m. in preparation for the upcoming school year.
“They have been ready to get out there and start working out,” Coach Chad Worrell said. “There has been a little more enthusiasm than we have had before. The coaches and athletes alike all want to get started.”
While things have started, they won’t get into full swing until the UIL and TEA gives an all-clear. Both organizations have been exact with their instructions for workouts and facility guidelines.
The most significant apparent differences are no one-on-one drills in any sport and no drills that require any coverage. The restrictions can be a little confusing with basketball players not allowed to guard each other, but quarterbacks can hand off footballs even closer to another player.
“It’s going to a be a little confusing at first because a lot of these kids have been hanging out and going to the lake together, Worrell said. “Then they get here, and we have strict guidelines in place, and they aren’t used to it.”
By around 7:30 a.m., the player had begun to realize they had to pay closer attention to coaches and that the storage of their water bottle and equipment also needed to abide by the 6-foot rule for distancing.
“The hardest thing right now is getting them in that social-distancing mindset because they are concentrating on working out,” Worrell said. “The kids have been doing some senior-led workouts on their own, but we have to get them to realize we do have some restrictions in place.”
After winning a state title in 2015, Worrell and the Eagles have made deep playoff runs and has become a powerhouse of Class 3-A D1 football in Texas. The Eagles made the quarterfinals in 2017 and have been in the state semifinals each of the last two years.
While his team has brought home a lot of gold footballs, you can’t paint Worrell as satisfied because Brock missed two of its team goals last season, and not winning a district title seems to weight a little on his mind.
“Our goals are the same every year. First, we want to get into the playoffs and win the district title,” Worrell said. “After that, we want to practice on Thanksgiving Day and win our last football game of the season.”
Defense wins championships, and the Eagles are lining up what Worrell believes to be the best unit since he was hired 10 years ago to start the Brock football program.
“We will have eight players coming back, including our leading tackler middle linebacker Carson Carter,” Worrell said. “We also defensive back Luke Dillingham, who is our leading statistical tackler over the last two years. Brett Drillette is another force for us at defensive end.”
All three players also getting extended looks from college coaches and form the nucleus of the Eagles’ defensive schemes. Nace Washington shores up the Eagles’ other defensive end position while Chris Webster is expected to be a stopper from the defensive tackle position.
Cash Jones and Jaxson Gleaton should come up big on defense for the Eagles, but fans are probably more inclined to get excited about their offensive plays.
Jones put up incredible numbers last season as he rushed for more than 2,700 yards and “35 or something” touchdowns.
Gleaton stepped into the role of starting quarterback following an injury to starter Logan Lightfoot, and he will put the wind in the Eagles’ wings this year. However, Brock has a playmaker in sophomore Tyler Moody, and he may push for some playing time.
Playing time is one thing Worrell likes to be able to dole out while keeping his team fresh. The Eagles will have 22 starters, but players will see some action on both sides of the football.
“I don’t want to have a two-way starter because it is taxing on a player,” Worrell said. “We are going to have several players that will play on offense and defense, but it will be where there are giving someone a break. We want to put the freshest player on the field when it’s possible.”
Fans should expect to see lots of ground-pounding by the Eagles’ offense with Tyler Riddle and Dillingham in the mix of Brock’s multiple set and look offense that sometimes includes three players in the backfield.
Shoring up the running back stable is Myes Semas, Chris Freeman (300 yards in the playoffs as a freshman), and Kutter Wilson. Wilson will be entering his junior campaign and had his year cut short by a broken collar bone in the second of the playoffs last season.
Brock was bitten hard by the injury bug last season, with several players going down with noncontact injuries. A knee here and a collarbone there may have well been the reasons the Eagles were unable to get back into the title tilt.
“Injuries are something we have gone and looked at during the offseason,” Worrell said. “It is always good to do a little self-evaluation and see if there is something we can do differently.”
One thing for sure is the Class 3-A D1 Championship road has started to run through Brock. Plainly speaking, if you want to be a state champion, then you need to figure out how to clip the Eagles wings.
The Eagles had 76 players out for strength and conditioning, and Worrell said he plans to carry a varsity of around 30-35 players. Last year, Brock brought up around a half dozen sophomores like Freeman, and those players have gotten serious seasoning with five additional playoff games.