©2013 NPT PHOTO BY SETH BUTLER First-year Cocke County coach Caleb Slover addresses his squad following Monday evening’s practice period. The Fighting Cocks will scrimmage Daniel Boone and West Greene on Friday in Gray.
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
(Last modified: 2013-07-30 15:47:17)
 
Author: Seth Butler
Source: The Newport Plain Talk

NEWPORT—Just more than three weeks away from the kickoff of the 2013 season, the Cocke County High School Fighting Cocks officially began their preseason schedule on Monday afternoon.

The Fighting Cocks, under the guidance of new coach Caleb Slover, took on a two-hour practice session to begin their preseason on the Mike Proffitt Practice Field. As the team still adjusts to a new system implemented by Slover, a former Tusculum College assistant coach, the new head coach said he was pleased with the effort shown by the team in Monday’s practice.

“We’re getting better effort,” Slover said. “We’ve still got to learn our plays a little more and get a little more disciplined, but the effort is there right now and we’re working hard and that’s the main thing.”

With over 50 players donning uniforms for Cocke County in their initial preseason workout, Slover said that the main emphasis of Monday’s practice was to stress the effort to his squad. Players underwent position drills and team defensive drills on Monday, but were not allowed any contact. Due to school athletic physicals being scheduled on July 31, the team is prohibited from any contact or going into full gear until August 1, despite teams statewide being able to don pads on Monday.

“(Hard work) is all we can ask for,” Slover said. “We will start doing things right and when we start doing things right going full speed, it’ll be a lot better.”

In addition to emphasizing effort, a large portion of Monday’s practice was spent teaching and correcting the system on both sides of the ball.

A heavy dose of the instruction by Slover came on the offensive side of the ball and with the play of expected starting quarterback John Epperson. Epperson, who took second team reps in spring practice, has been thrust into the lead spot on the team’s depth chart. Rising CCHS senior Hunter Suggs took first team snaps this spring, but has since elected to concentrate on basketball and baseball for his final year.

“I think we wanted to teach a little more, with John just begin (at quarterback) for a few weeks,” Slover said. “There’s some teaching to go with him.

“He’s doing a better job, he’s just got to keep working at it,” Slover said.

Monday’s practice was also instruction heavy due to the lack of a handful of players who were expected to compete for starting roles on this year’s squad. Both Kimbel Thornton and Jack Kyker, who took first team snaps in the spring, were absent from Monday’s practice.

“Two guys I counted on starting at running back weren’t here today,” Slover said. “So we got to get some reps and a little more teaching with those other guys.”

While the situation could have been a negative, Slover looked at it in a positive light.

“(Getting others reps) is what it’s about,” Slover said. “That makes us a better team and we’ll be more prepared and add a little more depth for us to use in the season.”

Cocke County again had practice this morning, and will go on the field in full pads on Thursday. Those two practices will proceed the Fighting Cocks’ lone scheduled preseason scrimmage at Daniel Boone on Friday night. The event will also include Class AA West Greene High School.

With only two workouts left before the team faces another opponent, Slover is looking for more solid effort from his squad the remainder of the week.

“Right now, it’s all about effort,” Slover said. “The effort has to be there.

“As long as we’re practicing hard and working hard - things are going to start going right for us and we’re going to start feeling better about it.”

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