The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

High School Sports

August 12, 2013

Eagles football lacking experience

Chris Shields officially started his third year at the helm of Joplin football on Monday at Junge Field.

This will likely be his youngest and most inexperienced team.

But don’t let that fool you into thinking he’s any less anxious to get things started.

“Honestly, I’m really, really excited,” he said after the Eagles wrapped up their first day of workouts. “I feel like we have more positions where things are up for grabs. Let’s see what guys can do.”

The Eagles worked out early Monday morning before reconvening at Junge in the afternoon for more drills and conditioning.

The unseasonably cool weather made things a little more bearable.

“It’s actually cool for once. This is great,” senior Tristan Ash said. “It’s like October or September, not August.”

The Eagles wrapped up their evening sessions with an extended conditioning period, working on kickoff lanes and running gassers.

“We’re going to have a lot of conditioning and extra running here at first,” Ash said. “That’s going to get us in shape for playing those four quarters. And when we get into pads later in the week, we can get faster and have that game speed.”

And as important as the conditioning is, Shields said, just as important was the speed of the drills.

“We just want to get out here, move around and have a good tempo,” he said. “The first thing we want to do is set the tone. Make sure the kids know how we want them practicing.

“I don’t care if you’re the last guy right now, I care about how hard you’re working. That’s what I want to see. You may be middle of the pack, but if you should be in the front, those are the things we’re looking at. It’s about effort.”

The Eagles begin a season that will see them replace a handful of key positions. Quarterback Gabe Sachetta and running back Chris Payton-Barba, along with most of the offensive line are gone to graduation, as are defensive stars Adam St. Peter and Jarad Bader, both of whom signed to play college football.

“We’re a young team,” Shields said. “On the line, we may start three or four seniors, but they’re seniors who were playing JV as a junior. And then at some spots we’re just really young and we’re playing young kids.”

But Evan Moore, a senior lineman, thinks that could be a strength.

“I think we’re pretty salty,” he said. “We’re pretty young, but I think that’s where we’re going to shine through.”

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