Preparations underway at Drew Central Pirates gearing up for second season of varsity football

The Drew Central football team began preparing in earnest for the program's second season of varsity football with the opening of fall drills Monday, August 10.

First-year head coach James Bell said about 30 players reported for the senior high team and just over 20 for junior high. The squads practiced together during the preseason but will separate once school starts today (Wednesday, August 19).

The first week went well, Bell said, adding that coaches kept things simple for the most part. The Pirates didn't go full contact and were still in shorts and shoulder pads by the end of the week.

"We're just bringing them along real slow," he said. "We're going to stay simple until (the players) get it, then we'll go to the next step after that."

Bell said most players reported in decent shape, though adjusting to the heat takes time.

"We've got guys gradually coming in and gradually getting in shape," he said. "Most of the guys were able to follow their summer workout plans. Some of them had to work, and that's OK. I feel like, overall, we're in decent shape."

The coach was hard-pressed to single out any one player as having a solid first week, saying he hadn't seen enough to make that determination.

"We haven't really opened it up yet," he said. "We're just trying to work basic fundamentals right now. We haven't done a whole lot of team stuff."

Bell took over in April and brings a wealth of experience to a fledgling program. He came to Drew Central from Veritas Sports Academy, a prep school in Greensboro, N.C. He also has major college experience, serving as an assistant at Indiana and Wake Forest, and has been a head coach on both the college and high school levels.

Drew Central football had lain dormant since the 1950s before former coach Brandon Barbaree was hired to resurrect it in 2007. Brandon Barbaree left for England High School last March after guiding the Pirates through two seasons, including their first varsity schedule in 2008.

DCHS finished last season 2-8 overall, 1-6 in the 7-3A Conference. The Sr. Pirates are scheduled to host a scrimmage with Smackover at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, August 27. The season opener with Dermott is set for 7 p.m. Friday, September 4, at Drew Central.

The Jr. Pirates are scheduled to open Thursday, September 3, at Fordyce, beginning with a seventh-grade game at 5:30 p.m.



<p>Drew Central's Billy Wilmoth, left, wraps up Pat Gutierrez during tackling drills Friday, August 14, at DCHS. The Pirates began preparing for their first season under head coach James Bell with the start of fall practice Monday, August 10. (Advance Monticellonian/DANNY SCOTT)</p>




<p>Brian Mills takes aim at a practice dummy during Friday's practice. (Advance Monticellonian/DANNY SCOTT)</p>




<p>Drew Central coach James Bell</p>


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