EAGLE PLAYERS

East Jackson football players get excited from the sideline after a big play during a Friday spring practice session. 

East Jackson is happy for the return of spring football, and coach Cameron Pettus said that’s evident by what he’s witnessed on the practice field.

The team’s spring session concludes Wednesday (May 12) with its scrimmage at Apalachee at 7 p.m.

“We’ve had a great spring session,” Pettus said. “Our numbers are up. The excitement is sky-high. We’ve got tons and juice and energy out there.”

Pettus enters his third year on the job at East Jackson and said that familiarity is showing.

“You can tell the program is really starting to take root,” Pettus said. “It’s Year 3 now going into it with me and a lot of these guys.”

He pointed to the continuity that now exits and the role that the older players are taking to shepherd the underclassmen. Pettus said that mentorship has stood out to him this spring.

“Our older guys are doing a really good job of leading our younger guys, too,” Pettus said. “It’s just been a very, very good experience for us to be out here during spring.”

Of course, East Jackson, like everyone else across the nation, didn’t hold spring football workouts last year due to the COVID-19 outbreak. That’s added even more energy to this spring session.

“It just makes you realize how lucky we have it, and just enjoy it,” Pettus said. “Because spring is just so much fun.”

Specifically, Pettus said spring ball is a time to build relationships with players and assess which athletes might become impact players for the fall — all in a less high-stress environment compared to the actual season.

Noteworthy is the 72 players participating in spring practice after the Eagles’ fall numbers took a hit last year due to the impact of COVID-19. With students back in school this spring, as opposed to 2020, Eagle coaches were able to encourage more players to participate.

“The big thing is just the kids being in the building and getting to see us and talk to the coaches daily,” Pettus said. “It gives us the ability to recruit out of the hallways and build those relationships to say, ‘Hey, come on out and try it out, see what you think.’ … It’s a win-win for everybody.”

As the Eagles wrap up spring football with Wednesday’s scrimmage at Apalachee, Pettus said he’s looking forward to seeing the offensive line “take the next step.” Meanwhile, the coach said he feels good about the team’s running backs and quarterbacks, but hopes to see more depth develop at wide receiver. He’s also interested in seeing the defensive line develop. Elsewhere on the defensive side of the ball, Pettus said he’s confident in the team’s linebackers, but needs young players to step up at defensive back.

Heading into Wednesday, a few East Jackson players still participating in track and field in this week’s state meet, which Pettus called “a fantastic problem to deal with.”

“We’ve just got to have other people step up and make plays,” he said.

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