After just four days of practice, the Crook County Cowboys put their football team on display Saturday night at the annual Blue & Gold dinner and scrimmage.
"This was my first time putting on a Blue & Gold and I was nervous that the crowd wasn't going to come out, but man, they came out and cheered," said first-year head coach Pard Smith. "I'm super excited to be a coach here in Crook County, where we have so much support.
Due to fewer players than normal, the scrimmage was different from past years, as there was virtually no contact. Instead, most of the time was spent with one-on-one drills and a seven-on-seven scrimmage.
Still, Smith was pleased with what he saw.
"I was extremely proud of how we had to have some of our very best bigger football players go against our younger, littlest football players and they owned that responsibility and they took care of those guys and both sides got work because of it," he said. "Everybody should have gotten plenty of reps and I think there were a lot of opportunities to play football out here tonight."
Smith added that he was pleased with how the team looked for just four days of practice.
"There are always things to clean up and get better at, but for a lot of these guys, this is four days of practice so, in four days of practice with a relatively new offense to us, I feel pretty good about where we are," he said.
Although the Cowboys were short of players for the scrimmage, Smith said that there are still additional players who are expected to come out. There were also a handful of players with minor injuries that were kept out of the event to make sure that they are available for the first game of the season.
Those additional players will add depth to the team, but Smith said that there will still be a lot of players who will be playing both offense and defense.
"We've got to be in great shape," he said. "We've got to take care of business, but we've got some more kids here that are trickling in. They just haven't gotten here yet. We will just have to get them coached up and caught up and make the most of it."
The Cowboys lost 12 seniors off of last year's team that compiled a 3-3 record and finished third in the Tri-Valley Conference.
Among those players was Hogan Smith, last year's conference offensive player of the year. However, that doesn't mean that there is a shortage of skilled players.
Running backs Brayden Duke, Triston Fischer and Dakota Humphreys return along with wide receivers Kyrie Willis and Elijah Freauff. Linemen Christian Taylor, Easton Perrin, Jacob Vanleuven and Cole Calhoun provide experience on the line, while Palmer Smith looks to replace his brother Hogan at quarterback.
Coach Smith said that he is preaching hard work and discipline and the team is buying into the program.
"We've been working extremely hard. We are hanging our hat on our work ethic," he said. "We say Brand. The b in brand stands for blue collar, which is our work ethic, and the D stands for discipline, so we are really highlighting those things. We want to outwork people and we want to be more disciplined this year. Our leaders, our seniors, are absolutely doing great. They have bought into what we are doing with the blue-collar discipline deal and they are being very respectful and bringing our younger kids along."
The Cowboys play in a jamboree at Redmond on Friday, then host Ridgeview on Friday, Sept. 3 to open the regular season. Gametime is set for 7 p.m.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.