A buzz in the air has people around Conway High feeling a little blue.
But that’s not necessarily a bad feeling. In fact, that feeling has brought a strong sense of anticipation.
"Everybody’s excited. The coaches are anxious to see how the kids perform under the lights when it really matters," said Conway football coach Clint Ashcraft during the Wampus Cats’ media day event Saturday. "The kids are anxious to see how good of a team we really are. It’s hard to tell right now because you’re just practicing against yourselves. But, we’re excited."
The same can be said for many outside of the school as well.
"I’ve gotten a lot of encouraging words from people in the community," Ashcraft said. "There’s kind of an excitement around the town about our team."
When the Cats take the field, there will be a different look that goes beyond X’s and O’s. Players will be sporting new uniforms, as were showcased Saturday, and home games will be played on a new field surface after synthetic turf was installed at John McConnell Stadium.
"You want to have good looking facilities and good looking uniforms," Ashcraft said. "That might generate a little more excitement. I’m sure there will be some people who come to our first home game (Sept. 11 against Fort Smith Southside) just to see the new field."
Still, that doesn’t mean the play on the field doesn’t carry much weight. That’s the main issue at hand, and there’s still work to be done to make that showing a positive one.
"We’ve got to eliminate mental mistakes on both sides of the ball," Ashcraft said. "We’ve got to get to where everybody on both sides of the ball is doing what they should without mental lapses. One mental mistake can ruin it for all 11 guys on the field."
Toughness is an attribute Ashcraft and his coaching staff have tried to instill into the players. Toughness relate to not just the mental side, but the physical side as well.
"We want to be known as a physical team on both sides of the ball," Ashcraft said. "We want to be known as a team that doesn’t beat itself. A lot of times in high school games, teams find a way to lose instead of finding a way to win. We want to avoid that."
Conway is scheduled to hold its first major scrimmage Saturday in the annual Steak-Out. The season opener is Sept. 4 at Bentonville.