YORK -- If the first day of practice is any indication, the York Comprehensive High School football team is ready to make a statement in the preseason.
"The players were chomping at the bit," head coach John Barrett said of Friday's opening of preseason practice. "It's the best first day of practice we've had since I've been here."
Not only were they ready, the Cougars went through the entire playbook in the morning session. "We ran every offensive play that we plan to run this season," Barrett said.
"We had a great summer, with 48 kids meeting the offseason workout requirements," he said. "Eighteen players made all of the workouts. I've been very pleased."
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Barrett said the players are competing for playing time in a lot of key positions.
"Our seniors have shown good leadership," he noted. "We're looking for players to step up."
The Cougars will begin the season with a mammoth offensive line, including senior right guard Jamie Smith. Smith said offensive linemen across the front weigh 250 pounds or more.
Senior tight end Brandon Martin said the size of the linemen will allow the Cougars to run the ball more and protect the quarterback.
"We have the players to get it done up front," Martin said. "The offense can move the ball and the defense will come around."
Smith sees advantages in being able to control the line of scrimmage.
"Running the ball consistently will take the life out of an opponent," he said.
Both Smith and Martin said the keys to a successful season are to play tough, come together as a team and continue the senior leadership.
"We have a good group of seniors that can make a difference," commented Smith.
The Cougar standouts are excited about the Aug. 14 Bank of York Preseason Kickoff.
The Cougars will have two controlled scrimmages prior to the preseason kickoff -- at Chapman Friday at 5 p.m. and Audrey Kell in Charlotte Tuesday at 6 p.m.
The Cougars have two jamboree dates, Aug. 16 at Rock Hill's District Three Stadium and Aug. 22 at Blue Ridge.
The 2008 regular season opener is Aug. 29 against Broome at home.