Greenwood wasted little time putting the pads on and hitting each other when the Bulldogs opened spring drills on Monday.
"After going through a long offseason, it’s always good to put on pads and play football," Greenwood head coach Rick Jones said. "We had a short controlled scrimmage (Tuesday). It was obvious they were enjoying being back playing real football."
The Bulldogs also wasted little time in competing against each other.
"It’s going well," Jones said. "Obviously, we have a lot of new guys working in. We do things a little bit unique; we work a lot of guys and we work three deep on both sides of the ball. We move a lot of guys in and out, and give as many guys as many reps as we possibly can."
Jones knows the Bulldogs’ methods are tried and true in a lot of ways.
"We compete every day," Jones said. "We divide into the white and the blue, and the white and the blue go after each other every day trying to make each other better."
Greenwood finished last season with its third consecutive state championship and stretched its winning streak to 38 games despite being moved from 5A to 6A in the summer of 2012. So the Bulldogs are definitely doing a lot of things right.
A good number of returning starters from last year’s team will return this fall.
Most of those veterans are on the offensive side of the ball like quarterback Jabe Burgess, running back Hoyt Smith and linemen Nick Houston, Colton Sims and Korban Waldemar, who helped set a school record by scoring 664 points last year.
"We’re counting on those guys a lot," Jones said. "It’s nice to have a tailback back, a quarterback back and three offensive linemen back. Offensively, it’s a matter of finding four guys to play receiver and finding a couple of linemen."
Burgess orally committed to the University of Tulsa after throwing for 3,178 yards and 37 touchdowns a year ago. Smith rushed for 996 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. Those two will be counted on to lead the offense as well as the team on and off the field.
"Hoyt looks great," Jones said. "He’s improved a lot over the offseason. He’s gotten bigger and stronger. He’s a more complete football player. Jabe’s made progress as well. He’s throwing the ball super. He’s stepping into a leadership role, being a senior and returning starting quarterback."
Defensively, the Bulldogs are looking to fill a lot of holes especially on the front lines.
"In the front seven, we lost a lot of really good players for us in the three down spots and the four linebacker spots," Jones said. "We have a lot of different things we’re looking at."
The bright spot of the defense is the return of Jonathan Clemons, Taylor Hasley and Michael Rhea in the secondary.
The Bulldogs also were working all of the baseball players into spring practice after their 5-4 loss to Jonesboro in the 6A State Championship Game last weekend.
"It’s tough for a bunch of our guys coming off the baseball championship game," Jones said. "They’ve had a long season there. It’s hard for those guys to go out there in full pads on Monday and get after it after finishing up the season on Saturday."
Greenwood will conclude spring practices with its annual blue and white game at 6:30 p.m. on May 30.
High School Football
Head coach: Rick Jones
Last season: 14-0 (7-0 7A/6A-Central)
Sept. 6 vs. Sallisaw
Sept. 13 at Alma
Sept. 20 vs. Shiloh Christian
Sept. 27 at Northside
Oct. 4 vs. Little Rock Parkview
Oct. 11 at Little Rock Catholic
Oct. 18 vs. Little Rock Hall
Oct. 25 at Southside
Nov. 1 at Conway
Nov. 8 vs. Russellville