This was not just another spring football game being played at Clinton High School on Thursday night.
One reason was that the game was actually played at Clinton High School because Wilder Stadium, the Red Devils’ stately home venue, is being refurbished at the middle school about a half mile away.
Another was that the new head football coach, Corey Fountain, who never experienced a losing season at Lamar, is how coaching where the last eight varsity seasons have been of the losing variety. The coming fall marks a decade since the most recent of the school’s eight state titles.
It wasn’t a game in the classic sense. With players on each side of the ball wearing both red and white jerseys, and players switching platoons, back and forth, the game was sort of a value-added game between offense and defense.
“They worked hard all spring,” said Fountain. “They’ve done everything we asked them to do. They’ve worked. We’ve got to get more physical. We’ve got to get stronger in the weight room. A lot of things we’ve got to fine-tune. We’ve got a long way to go.
“It’s going to take hard work over the summer for us to be successful.”
The game was held at the school’s track, which has a seating capacity of about 50, and most spectators were either leaning over a chain-link fence or sitting in portable chairs from a perch behind one end zone. Attendance wasn’t greater because there wasn’t room for many more. And it was hot, not as hot as many expected, but hot enough for expectations to keep them home.
Fountain, who is still not fully moved into his family’s Clinton home, has had much to do. He and the much-reworked staff have worked diligently on fundamentals, and it showed. Breakaways occurred on both sides – long runs and pass plays, a pick-6 or two – but the game was mostly a slugfest.
The new coach was mostly pleased.
“We’ve got to get them some confidence,” Fountain said. “I think they had some confidence today, and I think they had fun. We want it to be fun, but we want them to compete every day. This summer what we want to do is create competition in the weight room.”
Fountain didn’t want to mention names afterward.
“They’ve all worked hard,” he said. “There’s not one guy I’m going to tag. Being new, each one of these guys has impressed me with their work ethic, and their respect. They get after it every day in practice, and that’s what we’ve got to continue to have.”
The starting quarterback at the beginning of 2018, Konnor Richardson, missed most of spring practice. He hurt the left arm he broke last season again and had a second surgery. Navill Watson and Davis Wilson both played well in his absence. Richardson, who started in three sports in spite of the football injury, expects to be ready for August practice.