It’s back to the grind for the Brusly High football team.
Players and coaches leave around 11 a.m. today (Thursday) for Kings Arrow Ranch in Lumberton, Miss., for a series of practice sessions that will continue into November – or possibly December – as the Panthers kick off their 2014 season.
The training camp, which runs through Saturday, will cover every aspect of the game in hopes that the team will reach the playoffs and possibly get the trip to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for the 3A non-select championship Dec. 12.
It marks the second consecutive year Brusly travels to the vast surroundings at Kings Arrow Ranch, but the Panthers will not be alone at the camp. Several other schools will converge at the camp near Hattiesburg for similar sessions - including Live Oak, West St. John and Plaquemine.
Head coach Erik Willis said he’s not sure which team the Panthers will scrimmage – but he knows which one they won’t face.
Brusly and Plaquemine will not lock horns during the session. Willis and Green Devils head coach Paul Distefano – who graduated a year apart at Plaquemine – will tangle in pre-district action in September.
“We have a very good relationship with Plaquemine, but to face them would be almost like scrimmaging someone just before you play them,” he said.
The Panthers will likely lock up with West St. John, a perennial 1A state title contender.
Brusly will head into the training camp two days after conclusion of the summer strength-and-conditioning workouts.
“Everyone is healthy and ready to go,” Willis said. “We’re all looking very good at this point.”
The trip to Mississippi will mark the return of senior safety/outside linebacker Darius Turner, who underwent knee surgery in the spring.
The sessions will also give the Panthers’ coaches time to decide on the starting quarterback spot. Evan Daigle and Connor Manola are the two contenders for the position, but coaches have not leaned toward either player yet.
“It’s still up for grabs and it’s wide open,” Willis said. “We haven’t really worked on any of that during the summer, but we will give both of them equal time during the camp and then we’ll decide.”
The Panthers will get a short break to recoup from the drills before they resume practice on their home turf early next week.
The two-a-days – a long standing tradition for Brusly and other schools – will not be part of the pre-season activity.
The earlier start of the school year limited teachers and coaches and has cut into the practice time for football programs.
“That shouldn’t be a problem,” Willis said. “We still have over two weeks until our first scrimmage, so we’ve got plenty of time.”
Brusly will host Broadmoor for a pre-season scrimmage at 6 p.m. Aug. 21.
The Panthers are scheduled to compete Aug. 29 in the Live Oak Jamboree, but the pairings have not yet been completed. Brusly was originally set to meet False River Academy, but Willis said the addition of other schools to the jamboree could change the lineup.
“It doesn’t really matter who we play that night,” Willis said. “We’re just ready to get started.”