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Trojans channel 1980 Junkyard Dogs in physical practice

SAm gause | The Natchez Democrat Ledger Powell, left, attempts to tackle Tyus Turner during a drill during Ferriday High School’s football practice Wednesday.
Sam gause | The Natchez Democrat
Ledger Powell, left, attempts to tackle Tyus Turner during a drill during Ferriday High School’s football practice Wednesday.

FERRIDAY — Suiting up in helmet and shoulder pads is a lot like letting a Junkyard Dog off of its leash at Ferriday High School.

At least, that’s the way Ferriday head coach Cleothis Cummings viewed Ferriday’s first fall camp practice Tuesday.

“It was like letting them out of a cage,” Cummings said. “They started slamming on each other, and if they wouldn’t have had helmets on, they probably would have bit each other.”

There was no shortage of slams in Wednesday’s follow-up practice. In fact, the 2014 Trojans would have made the 1980 Ferriday Junkyard Dogs proud with such physicality. The 1980 Junkyard Dogs were headlined by Walter Johnson, who was inducted into the Louisiana Tech hall of fame in 2013. The Junkyard Dogs were known for their hard-hitting, smashmouth football in the early 1980s.Three decades later, the Trojans did their best Junkyard Dog impression at practice.

“Give me two players who want to hit,” instructed Cummings as he dragged dummies to the center of the practice field.

Two Ferriday players would then get inside the dummies, lie on their backs, pop up and pounce on each other at the sound of the whistle. This is what Ferriday players called, “the hotbox.”

“Head up. Don’t run to the side. Don’t be a coward!” Cummings shouted.

Between the dummies was a proving ground, where Ferriday players embraced the physicality and tested their toughness against one another. Hard hits, sound fundamentals and never-say-die work ethic earned praise from the coaches. And no one, including underclassmen and quarterback Ronald Williams, escaped practice without “showing a little love,” as Cummings put it, to fellow teammates.

“I’m still sore from yesterday,” Williams said. “But it’s getting us right.”

Practices at Ferriday seem a little bit more intense this time around. Expectations are higher with young, talented players gaining experience in 2013. Cummings wouldn’t go as far as to say this is the best group of skill players he’s had, but he acknowledged the potential his players’ possess.

“It’s possible that they could be (the best), but I don’t want to jump the gun,” Cummings said. “I like the talent and the attitude that we have, but it still needs some coaching. It needs to be fine tuned, but by the time we’re done with them, this could be one of the best groups.”

Cummings said he’s learned from last year’s 3-8 season by having a backup plan if his starting quarterback goes down. Williams will retain the starting position after missing most of last season with a broken collarbone, and the player who filled in for Williams, Shannon Morales, will back him. Morales, who’s known mostly for his defensive prowess, was forced to play quarterback for most of the year and gave the team a mobile option. Going into 2014, Cummings plans on using both quarterbacks in every game, using Williams as his pocket passer and Morales as his dual threat playmaker.

“It’s a blessing to have these type of kids that can be put anywhere and just let them play,” Cummings said.

The Trojans will get to take out their aggression on another team Aug. 22 in a scrimmage at Delhi. Cummings can only hope his team channels the likes of Johnson and other great Ferriday athletes with continued tenacious play.

 

 

 

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