Monday marked the official start of a new era in Davis High School football: the John Wiley era.
According to the new Blue Devil head coach, all 38 of DHS’ rostered players participated in two workouts at Brown Stadium as the Devils opened preseason practice.
The team went through special teams training in the morning, then did lots of offensive walkthroughs in the evening.
“Overall I thought we had a great sense of urgency (Monday), guys moved around great — it was pretty hot out,” said Wiley, a former Chicago Bear and All-SEC defensive back at Auburn who was the defensive coordinator at Christian Brothers last season.
“We’re in really good condition; we had a (conditioning) test (Monday) and 99 percent of the players passed.”
Conditioning will be vital for the Blue Devils this year with their smaller roster and their challenging schedule. Delta Valley opponents like Franklin and Grant are expected to field rosters of more than 50 players so Davis will need to be in great shape to combat that depth.
“No matter if you have 80 guys or 20 guys, conditioning is always essential to success,” Wiley said. “It prevents you from making mistakes from being tired at the end of the game and it prevents injuries from being in better shape. I’m really pleased with our conditioning.”
Monday’s afternoon workout was dedicated to offense as the Devils went through part of the playbook and practiced some basic formations.
“The bases for both (offense and defense) are already installed, now we gotta get ready for game-planning for our opponents,” Wiley said. “But that’s not going to come until the week of, so we’re still working on our fundamentals, making sure they understand what we want them to do.”
Just like last year — when quarterbacks Quentin Jones and Emilio Barba had a preseason competition for the starting spot — there will be another battle between a junior and a senior signal-caller.
Junior Jack Beckman and senior Quinn Williams both took snaps at quarterback during walkthroughs on Monday. Wiley says that none of his starters have been determined yet with the season opener — a Sept. 5 home game against River Valley — nearly a month away.
“We’re still evaluating each and every player; no one’s really a starter until that week comes,” Wiley explained. “Hopefully, we’re going to have a lot of friendly competition and the best person that comes out is going to be our starter.”
In addition to physical conditioning, Wiley stressed communication throughout practice Monday as he knows it will be an important part of DHS’ success.
“One of the hardest things — and I always jokingly say this — is when you’re in a classroom with kids, especially high school boys, you can’t get them to stop talking,” said Wiley, who taught math at Christian Brothers last year. “When you get to the football field, and you say, ‘I need you to talk,’ they’re silent.”
“It’s really important that we communicate: knowing what each person’s doing every play, knowing blocking assignments, from an offensive standpoint. From a defensive standpoint it alerts us to where we will find gaps; it’s vitally important that we communicate.
“Every day at practice you’ll hear me saying, ‘Talk, talk, talk!’ We can never talk enough.”
— Reach Thomas Oide at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @ReporterThomas