It’s hard to tack a particular season to the football strength and conditioning drills at Port Allen.
The drills started long before the end of May. In fact, they started before players could wish each other a happy 2014.
Practice drills for the 2014 season kicked off the moment players learned they missed out on a berth in the Class 3A non-select playoffs.
“They know it’s time to grind, and they’ve been doing it since the offseason began,” said Guy Blanchard, who enters his 10th season at Pelican head coach.
When the incoming seniors learned last November that their 3-6 finish kept them from the post-season fray, they knew it was time to get to work.
“Those guys weren’t going to settle for that during their senior year,” Blanchard said. “We had a couple of seniors stand out at the post-season meeting saying they refused to be disappointed and refused to go out like that.
“These seniors may be the best character group I’ve ever worked with,” he said. “They’re staying focused and they know the differences from last year”
The Pelicans will take that work ethic into their annual “Pel Hell” boot camp Aug. 4-7 at Kings Arrow Ranch in Lumberton, Miss.
Blanchard hopes the Pelicans can get a handle on a flaw that held back the team much of the season.
“Turnovers were our biggest problem last season – it’s very hard to win that way,” he said. “If we can stay away from that and just execute, we’ll have a chance to be successful.”
Blanchard also expects improvement among linebackers and special teams.
“We have to be able to execute,” he said. “Whatever we do or decided to do, we have to execute and do the things that will give us the chance to be successful.”
Blanchard hopes a more experienced roster will work past the offensive snafus from last season.
“This is the first time in several years that we’ve had depth this intensive and experience returning in every position,” he said. “We’ll be depending on their depth and experience on a really brutal schedule – not the toughest we’ve ever had, but definitely up there.”
PAHS hosts Albany in the Placid Refining Jamboree Aug. 28 at Guy Otwell Stadium. The Pels open regular season action Sept. 5 at Avoyelles, followed with Redemptorist and then travel to Livonia in Week 3.
“You follow that up with a visit from West Feliciana, and you’ll see us against two teams that will probably have spots in the top five or top 10,” Blanchard said. “There are no ‘gimmes’ on this schedule.”