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Written by John Dupont on .


The surroundings are different, but conditions remain the same for Port Allen in the annual “Pel Hell” training camp.

The Pelicans began their 2014 training sessions Monday with round-the-clock drills at the high school practice facility.

It marked the first time in eight years PAHS did not venture to Lumberton, Miss., to kick off the practice drills but it did not mean the Pelicans got a break on intensity.

If anything, it may have been a bit tougher.

“I think they felt a difference today,” PAHS head coach Guy Blanchard said. “They realize we did a lot more today and there wasn’t very much down time, so I think it’s starting to get to them a bit.”

The home camp spared players and coaches a three-hour drive to the dot-on-the-map 30 miles south of Hattiesburg, along with some of the formalities that went with it.

“We didn’t have to take a tour, nor did we have to set up for the huddle and all that other stuff,’ Blanchard said. “Instead, it’s been straight to work.”

The first day of the work amounted to the same showing he’s seen from his team in Mississippi.

“It’s all at the starting point, where we’re not as good as we need to be yet,” Blanchard said. “The kids were there, and they were trying their best.

“In this setting, you’ll have some great days with execution and fundamentals – and some not-so-great,” he said. “It’s the kind of thing you expect in a training camp.”

Practice sessions on the home turf have allowed coaches more flexibility with the workouts, along with more intensity.

Despite the added rigor in the workouts, the players adjusted well, Blanchard said.

“We have a good group who are doing what they know they’re supposed to be doing,” he said. “They adapt to surroundings well and they know they’ll have to work hard wherever they go.”

Drills on the opening day focused heavily all three aspects of the game – offense, defense and special teams.

“Just because it was the first day, I can tell you it was no day at the park,” Blanchard said.

Several players have already made their mark, most notably defensive end Marcus Keyes, the incoming senior who committed to University of Louisiana-Lafayette in May.

“I’ve also had some players who have come a long way over the summer and have done a lot of work,” Blanchard said. “This group overall is a character group - they work hard, they persevere and do all they can to win.”

Port Allen hosts Albany in the Placid Refinery Jamboree on Aug. 28 at Guy Otwell Stadium.

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