Pirates add depth with start of school year

The beginning of the 2008-09 school year has allowed Drew Central coach James Bell to bolster his varsity roster.

"We've got about 30 (players), and we're waiting on some other guys," Bell said. "We're gradually adding guys as we go. It gets better the more people you have."

The Pirates recently completed their second week of fall practice as they prepare for their second season of varsity football and their first under Bell. The coach was hired last April to replace Brandon Barbaree, who resigned to accept the head football coach position at England High School.

Bell said the Pirates were able to do more group and team drills in week two, as well as some special teams work. They also donned full pads for the first time Thursday, August 20. The coach said he tries to avoid injury during the preseason, but the players were able to get their licks in.

"We do enough hitting drills, but it's controlled hitting," he said. "It went really well. (The players) were excited about it. That's kind of a motivator, when they get a chance to go full pads and open it up."

The philosophy has served him well so far. As of Friday, August 21, the Pirates had no major injuries to speak of. Brian Williams is currently rehabbing his ankle following surgery for an injury he sustained before Bell was hired.

And Williams is still able to participate in practice on limited basis, the coach noted.

"His rehab is going well," Bell said. "We just have to keep him out of certain drills."

With the start of school, Bell has split up his junior and senior high squads after working them together during preseason. The Jr. Pirates practice at 1:30 p.m., while the Sr. Pirates hit the field around 3 p.m.

Both teams are scheduled to scrimmage Thursday, August 27, when Drew Central plays host to Smackover beginning at 6:30 p.m. Bell said the games should offer a good indication as to how much progress his teams have made so far.

"That'll be a pretty good measuring stick of where the guys are," he said.

The Jr. high and seventh-grade Pirates will open the regular season September 3 at Fordyce, with the first game kicking off at 5:30 p.m. The Sr. Pirates will host Dermott for their season opener at 7 p.m. September 4.

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