Mountainburg Dragons move football practices indoors for spring workouts

George "Clay" Mitchell
Press Argus-Courier

The Mountainburg Dragons football team got a late start to its spring practices.

A number of players were still playing for the baseball team in the state playoffs. And when the spring practices resumed, they were met with rain and eventually a wet field.

Everything moved indoors.

"It's pretty much the same thing we've experienced for the past five to seven years," coach Tom Harrell said. "We just haven't had a normal spring practice in a long time so it puts us a little behind, some years more than others."

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Last season, the Dragons had a mostly sophomore class of linemen and were working with a new quarterback after Ethan Gregory opted not to play football his senior year. However, COVID-19 restrictions from the state prevented Mountainburg and other schools from practicing until June and limited what could be done.

"We really could have used a spring practice last year," Harrell said. "But with everybody we got coming back this year, it didn't impact us as much as it has in the past.

"All that being said, I'm very pleased with where we are at this point."

The Dragons, with many of their players working jobs and helping with family farms, will meet a couple of times per week to lift and run through some plays to keep the game fresh for the players.

Harrell begins his final season as the Mountainburg coach. He has been with Mountainburg since 1989 and became coach the following season.

"Everything now is 'the last time I do something,' " Harrell said. "The last time I'm on the baseball field, the last time I'm on the practice field for spring, my last spring practice. I'm going to miss some of it."

Mountainburg competes in the state's smallest classification and has 27 players on the roster. One of the things Harrell won't miss is making adjustments to the football schedule in the middle of August. 

"We've always had an open date because our conference has an odd number," Harrell said. "But when you have two teams decide late that they're not going to have football and sometimes a third, that's three to four open dates on the schedule. We've had to really stretch to get some games lined up. 

"It looks like we're going to be OK this season but if not, we'll deal with it as it comes."