Devils stayed simple in spring drills

Published 12:01 pm Friday, May 13, 2016

College football teams wrapped up their spring practices nearly a month ago, but this week high school teams are completing their spring drills.

Water Valley put a bow on its practices Wednesday afternoon and competed in a jamboree at North Pontotoc against Okolona and North Pontotoc Thursday evening.
The Blue Devils’ main focus was one thing — not overthinking.

The Blue Devils were in no hurry to implement any kind of game plans or schemes with the 2016 season three months away, but they did want to make sure the players got their reps in.

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“I always say spring is about players, not plays,” Embry said of their jamboree plans on Wednesday. “We’re going to have it to where the kids who didn’t come out last year can have somewhat of an idea what to do. We’re not game planning anybody. We’re not going to try to formation anybody. We’re just going to line up and play simple football so the kids can play and not think and see who the players are.”

On the offensive side of the ball, Water Valley was without their potential starting quarterbacks in Ty Varner and Taghee James. Varner was with the baseball team most of spring drills and returned a week ago after its season wrapped up. James has been nursing an ankle injury where he developed some tendonitis but was held out by Embry for precautionary reasons as James is nearly full strength again.

“We’ve got plenty of quarterbacks,” Embry said. “Taghee is going to be a senior, and he’s kind of been our wildcat guy and he’s done a real good job. He’s fine now, but we don’t want to tweak that ankle now. It’s spring. We know what he can do, so we’re going to hold him.”

Freshman Blayne Clark was also with Varner on the baseball field, which left sophomore Nate Murphy taking most of the snaps during spring practices.

Defensively Water Valley is in the process of looking for a replacement, or replacements, to fill the loss of safety Kirkland Horton, who was arguably the Blue Devils’ best player on both sides of the football last year.

“We feel pretty good about our guys,” Embry said of his defense. “We’re trying to get our young guys caught up. We feel good about our first guys, but we’ve got to develop some depth, so I guess you could say depth is really what we’ve worked on most on defense (this spring). We’re worried about the fourth free safety getting as many reps as the first, the fourth boundary safety getting as many reps as the first in the spring.”