There’s been an ongoing trend at Conway High football practices that’s still a work in progress but intended to have a long-term affect.
Simply put, it’s install and review. But there’s a lot about that process that’s not so simple.
New has been a common word that can describe changes made for the Wampus Cats after Clint Ashcraft took over. In light of that, new systems and schemes are being implemented into the gameplan. However, this kind of change takes time.
"We’ve just got to continue installing the new stuff, and we’ve got to make sure we go back and review. It’s kind of install and review," Ashcraft said. "We still have things we haven’t gotten in yet. It takes time, and I don’t know if we’ll get it all in before the season, but over the course of the season, we’ll hopefully get it all in."
That will no doubt be affected by how well things go as the Cats continue practices. As has been the case, that’s not something Ashcraft has had much disappointment in.
"It’s been going good," Ashcraft said. "Monday and Tuesday were a little rough. That’s probably because it was so hot. Wednesday, though, we had a really good practice.
"You’ve got your normal ups and downs, but overall I’m pleased with how we’ve practiced."
Conway began practicing in full pads Tuesday. With that comes an increase in the level of physical play. Still, it starts with a strong mental approach.
"I noticed last week that things started to get more physical," Ashcraft said. "They understand things better and they’re getting it down mentally. I think once you do that, then the physical level will improve because you can let loose and not hold back as much because you understand what you’re doing."
Even in the midst of the major things, though, the small things take great importance.
"There’s a lot of little things that are important," Ashcraft said. "That’s what we’re looking at. If you can do those things right, then they’ll add up and that will help the big picture."
A lot has been made about the Spread offense — as opposed to the wing-T the Cats ran for the last several years — and what kind of changes that will bring. The guys on the other side of the ball are in a learning process as well. Many of those lessons are starting to take form.
"Last week at the end of the week when we were scrimmaging some, the offense seemed to have the upper hand," Ashcraft said. "The defense seems to be in front now. They’re starting to understand how it all fits together. They have to take care of each other by being in the right spot and staying with their assignment. They’re getting that now."
Such progress has come with solid work ethic. That’s also led to a sense of realizing how everything works together.
"They seem to be in the right frame of mind," Ashcraft said. "We’ve been noticing that they’re starting to understand the big picture."
Barring any major injuries, which Ashcraft said haven’t been much a problem, that can no doubt pay off in the long run. Several of the skilled positions on offense are gaining a good understanding of their own, as Ashcraft pointed out.
"Our running backs and quarterbacks are starting to get a real good grasp of where they fit," Ashcraft said. "The running backs are understanding where the creases are, and the quarterbacks are doing a good job of looking over defenses and reading coverages."
Ashcraft also said the defensive line has made a "big jump."
More emphasis will be put on special teams in the coming days. That’s an area Ashcraft said the Cats will work on fine tuning and have begun hitting hard.
Putting it all together before the Sept. 4 opener at Bentonville is the key. But, it takes a process and processes take time, and time will reveal how much the work being done pays off.