Ferriday football player Rayden Jefferson reaches to keep control of the ball during one of the team’s drills during spring practice Monday afternoon. Jefferson said he enjoys physical drills that allow him to let out his emotions. (Ben Hillyer \ The Natchez Democrat)
Ferriday football player Rayden Jefferson reaches to keep control of the ball during one of the team’s drills during spring practice Monday afternoon. Jefferson said he enjoys physical drills that allow him to let out his emotions. (Ben Hillyer \ The Natchez Democrat)

Cummings said he’s looking for tough attitudes as spring begins

Published 12:01am Tuesday, May 14, 2013

NATCHEZ — Rayden Jefferson lined up for hitting drills Monday afternoon and had no intention of shying away from contact.

He may be a running back trying to avoid getting tackled, but that doesn’t mean the rising senior at Ferriday High School wants to simply elude defenders. Running over them serves just as well.

“I love it,” Jefferson said. “That’s what this sport is about — taking what you have inside you and putting it on the field. Football teaches us about playing together and being tough. If you’re not tough, you can’t play this sport.”

That’s just the kind of attitude second-year Trojans head coach Cleothis Cummings said he was looking for when his team took the field for their first day of spring practice. The focal point of the first week will be working on fundamentals and having the players develop “a meanness to their attitude,” Cummings said.

“With football, you have to have some type of mean streak,” Cummings said. “It’s a physical and violent sport. We want to teach kids the correct way to do things to avoid injury, (but) if you have a meanness to you, you’re already a step ahead of everyone else.”

Or, in Jefferson’s case, you can just let football be a place to vent after a frustrating day.

“You get to take out your anger on whoever you want and let out a lot of emotion,” Jefferson said.

Linebacker Dontrelle Davis said playing physical is about more than just wanting to hit someone.

“If you don’t have that focus and drive, you won’t be what you want to be,” Davis said. “We’re trying to go all the way, but we won’t if we don’t have that mindset.”

And there’s extra incentive for Davis to have the right mindset, as he’s looking to get back on the field after having his sophomore season cut short by an ACL injury during the Trojans’ second game last fall.

“It feels good (getting back out there),” Davis said. “It wasn’t a good situation. It didn’t feel the same on Friday nights. I was ready to practice again — I couldn’t wait. I’m so excited right now.”

Though Jefferson and Davis are upperclassmen, Cummings said the most energy he’s seen so far has been from the newcomers.

“I like the intensity factor I’m seeing from the younger guys,” Cummings said. “Our middle school guys have more intensity than our vets, which I didn’t expect.”

And contact drills are a great way to find out exactly who has the intensity that Cummings is looking for, he said.

“You kind of find out who actually wants to do it and who needs time to develop,” Cummings said. “We don’t have the luxury of a one-platoon offense and defense, so we have to make sure everyone is in tune with what we’re doing.”

After working on fundamentals this week, Cummings said the team would transition to working on offensive and defensive schemes next week. Veterans Ronald Davis and Shannon Morales will compete at the quarterback spot, along with incoming freshman Ronald Williams, Cummings said.

“Right now, every position is open,” he said. “We’re not locking anyone in. Everyone is going to have to earn it.”

Though the team has high expectations for the fall, Jefferson said he wants himself and his teammates to focus on one thing at a time.

“I want our team to work together as a unit, and as we do that, we’ll progress together and win a lot of games if we’re not trying to be individuals,” Jefferson said.

Ferriday will host Delhi Charter for a 6 p.m. scrimmage May 23.