Improvement seems to be the them for the East Oktibbeha football team this fall.
The Titans start practice today in Crawford and are hoping for a better season than last year.
The Titans ended last year with a 5-6 record. Although East Oktibbeha did not achieve a winning record, several players from last year's squad will be missed.
"I am looking to improve on last season," Titan head coach Randy Brooks said. "We graduated 13 seniors and at the 1A level, that is quite a few. We are going to be replacing guys that started four years."
Senior leadership is something Brooks is hoping to see in the first couple of days of practice. Like many teams, the Titans play in a jamboree not too long after practice starts so someone will have to step up early.
"We have a jamboree on the 10th of August so time is of the essence," Brooks said. "The only thing we really are going to need is some senior to step up and be a leader right now. The underclassmen have been keeping each other motivated throughout the summer, but my seniors have not stepped up."
Brooks has a lot of faith in junior fullback/defensive lineman Justin Williams.
"He showed me that he is a division one prospect, he is a leader and he is going to be the player we hang our hat on the next two years," Brooks said.
Coach Adam Lowrey liked the commitment the Timberwolves showed during summer workouts and hopes they will take that momentum into the start of practice.
With at least 90 percent of the team participating in every weight-training session, Lowrey believes the players are showing the desire even though the numbers are few.
The key now for West Oktibbeha is to sharpen up on the knowledge of the system.
"It's like every year when you start up," Lowrey said. "You've got to introduce everything and get everybody back on page from what we were doing in the spring and try to carry over to the fall."
The Timberwolves return Von Smith at quarterback, but Lowrey has high hopes especially for running back Tiberias Lampkin.
"Tiberias is going to be big this year," Lowrey said. "He's been working really hard this summer and he'll do good for us."
West Oktibbeha hosts East Webster for a jamboree on August 10.
The Wolverines celebrated the end of summer workouts with a cookout last Thursday night.
Now East Webster coach Doug Wilson is ready for them to work it off.
"We're ready to go," Wilson said. "It's time to see what we've accomplished this summer."
Wilson said the goal for the Wolverines when practice starts is to become more competitive.
There are specific drills in place to steer the players in that direction.
"Everything we do, the kids are going to work against each other," Wilson said. "We're going to try and get them as competitive as we possibly can."
East Webster doesn't have very long to prepare for a jamboree at West Oktibbeha on August 10.
"We've got a lot to do real quick," Wilson said. "We've got maybe 10 practice days. We're going to do a little (next) Saturday to give us an extra day."
Eupora head coach Junior Graham is expecting his team to be in shape when they show up today for the first day of practice.
"With the way things go now with coaching, you are able to work your kids throughout the course of the summer," Graham said. "Our kids have been running since June. The length of the practice is going to change. Kids are coming into fall practice in better shape now than what they did seven or eight years ago.
"Based on how our summer's been, we are excited. We have had good participation throughout the course of the summer."
Graham is not expecting to change much in the first couple of practices from what the Eagles did in the spring. He plans on not missing a beat.
"We are going to try and get all our special teams incorporated," Graham said. "We are going to do a lot of conditioning. We just plan on picking up exactly where we left off in the spring."
The Eagles host a jamboree on August 11 and open the season on the road at French Camp on August 17.
Adam Dillinger is looking for certain things the first day of practice.
With there not being much contact, talent is not the things he will be on the lookout for.
"The three days we are just in shorts and t-shirts," Dillinger said. "There is not a whole lot to see. We want to see we are in shape coming back in from the summer. You want to see excitement. You want to see the attitude is there."
When practice picks up and pads are put on, that is when Dillinger will get a feel for his team.
That is when he will get some answers.
"We still got some questions to answer. We are not solidified on every position yet," Dillinger said. "These first couple of weeks we have to find some guys that are stepping up, wanting to take some starting roles and take some leadership on. We really need these first couple of weeks for guys to step up and take over a couple of spots we have some questions about."
The Indians take on county opponent Weir in a jamboree on August 10, then open the season at Noxapater on August 17.