By John R. Schirmer
Spring football “has been good” for the Nashville Scrappers, according to Coach Mike Volarvich. “We’ve had 7 days so far,” Volarvich said Monday morning, with drills planned for Monday and Tuesday this week and the controlled spring game this morning (Wednesday), starting between 10:30 and 11.
“We’ve gotten better from where we were day 1,” Volarvich said. “We’ve seen a lot of ninth graders who have come over. We’ve had a chance to see what they can do.”
The Scrappers lost 23 seniors from the 2015 state championship team. “We’re plugging in some positions, and we’ll see who steps up” to fill the gaps.
“We’ve had a bunch of guys do some good things. They’re battling for positions.”
With spring practice concluded, the coaching staff will have the summer program and fall camp to decide how the vacancies are filled. “It will be about how they develop,” Volarvich said of his players.
The focus for spring practice has been “getting everybody to understand our base offense and defense,” Volarvich said. “We line up in our basic defense and see who can make a play, see who swarms to the ball.”
On offense, “We block, throw, catch, run. We try to identify players who can do these things.”
Another aspect of spring ball has been an effort to “build the characteristics of our team. We’ve had contact drills to build some toughness.”
The Scrappers have 70 players on the roster now, including 28 ninth graders. They’ve added some athletes who didn’t play last year.
Volarvich said it’s “been fun to watch some of this year’s sophomores and the development they’ve had. The first year, maybe they’re a little timid when they come over. The juniors, about to be seniors, a lot of maturity comes with them. Something in them has clicked. ‘This is my time now.’ They’re showing leadership and effort.”
With such a large group of graduates who played last year, many of the players who were back-ups as juniors “now step it up. They’re fighting for starting positions. That creates competition that makes better players and makes a better team,” Volarvich said.
Volarvich is entering his second season with the Scrappers after coming to Nashville from the offensive coordinator position at Henderson State. “It’s different from last spring. The first time, we had to really start from ground zero. This is what we call the position. Communicate the snap count. Know where we line up. This year, we didn’t have to start there. We knew where to line up and knew the terminology. We could start quicker. That’s been good.”
For Volarvich, “I have a better understanding of what works in practice. It took some tweaking to get the format for practice.”
With spring drills winding down, the Scrappers will turn their attention to their summer schedule.
First on the list will be team camp Friday, June 3, at Scrapper Stadium. Participating teams include Nashville, Hot Springs Lakeside, Hope, Lake Hamilton, El Dorado, Magnolia, Arkansas High and Camden Fairview.
“If you draw a line from Hot Springs down, some of the stiffest competition in this part of the state will be here,” Volarvich said.
The camp will run from 9:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m.
“This is really the conclusion of our spring. It gives our guys a chance to hit someone with a different color jersey. It will help us judge how we compare to good local talent,” Volarvich said.
The Scrappers will compete in a 7-on-7 tournament June 17 at Hope.
In addition, the Scrappers will have their normal workouts consisting of lifting, running and drills. “We’ll can concentrate on getting bigger, stronger and faster.”
From there, the Scrappers join teams statewide in the two dead weeks required by the Arkansas Activities Association.
They return for conditioning July 11.
Media day will be Saturday, July 30, at Scrapper Stadium.
Fall practice will start Monday, Aug. 1.
The first day of classes in the Nashville School District will be Aug. 15.
The Scrapper Booster Club’s Orange and Black Back-to-School Bash will be Friday, Aug. 19.
Nashville will scrimmage El Dorado Aug. 25 at Southern Arkansas University.
The season will open Friday, Sept. 2, at Hope.