May, August, November.
The Alma Airedales don’t care what month it is, when they’re on the football field they’re going to hit and tackle.
"The two days we’ve been in pads have been as physical as any practices we’ve had since I’ve been there," said Alma head coach Doug Loughridge said. "In fact, we’ve had to pull them back a little bit. That’s a good problem to have. The guys have been flying to the ball. We’ve had competition every day."
Alma is halfway through the designated period for spring football drills. As usual, the emphasis has been on physical football.
"We’re real, real excited," Loughridge said. "The excitement from the kids has been there. They were all ready to get out there and get started. We’ve got a lot of things to correct and a lot of things to work on, but one thing we’ve not had to do is get out there and push them on is hitting."
Alma was 6-6 last year and advanced to the second round of the Class 6A playoffs, losing to Jonesboro.
Senior-to-be Alex Beneux and junior-to-be Noah Dotson have assumed the quarterback duties. Both have experience there and sliding into the position will be an easy transition. Sophomores-to-be Garrison Jensen and Caleb Lamproe have also been working at the position.
"It’s a key time to see the seniors that were juniors last year that maybe didn’t have a big role, and see how they’ve developed in the weight room," Loughridge said. "It also give us a chance to see the juniors that were sophomores and the incoming sophomores to see how they measure up to the older guys."
Beneux ran for 316 yards and three touchdowns last year in a backup role. Dotson also played spot duty.
"Beneux and Dotson are both veterans, Beneux has been out there two years," Loughridge said. "Both of those guys have grown up and matured and filled out. They’ve taken the offense by the reins."
Alma worked all five days this past week and will got four days in the final week.
"We’ve been focused on the fundamentals," Loughridge said. "The first couple of days, the effort as far as the tempo we like to practice wasn’t there but after some corrections we’ve got it back. They’re practicing fast, and they’ve got their feet back under them."
Alma returns just one offensive lineman, which is another area of emphasis in the spring.
"We’re going to be young up front," Loughridge said. "We’re going to have a lot of juniors, but we’ll have those guys for two years. That’s a focus this spring is developing those linemen."
The Airedales will not hold their annual Green and Gold game due to the installation of artificial turf on their field.
"We traditionally have a true scrimmage in the stadium, but with us getting turf we’re just going to have a situational type scrimmage on our practice field," Loughridge said. "It won’t be a true game. It will be kind of a team camp type setting."
The Airedales will compete in three 7-on-7 tournaments, the first at Charleston on May 30. They will also go to Little Rock Christian’s Arkansas 7-on-7 Classic in June and Shiloh Christian’s Southwest Elite tournament in July.
The linemen will compete in a lineman camp with 10 other schools later in the summer at Northside.
"We’ve got a lot of work still to do this summer," Loughridge said.
Alma’s preseason scrimmage will be at Northside on August 24. Alma opens the season against Southside in the Hooten’s kickoff Classic on Sept. 1 at Reynolds Stadium at the University of Arkansas.