The Lamar Raiders are wrapping up their second week of practice in full pads. With the season-opener two weeks away, senior linebacker Jesse Seale is loving every minute of it.
"I feel good about it. I feel good that we can go out there and hit, and nobody out there on my team is afraid to hit anybody. We kinda have a tough team."
Meanwhile, head coach Mac Barnes says there's much to do in little time.
"Yea, we get tree and a half weeks, so it's a pretty fast-paced thing trying to get people in shape, work on your contact work and then get ready for a game, so it' s a lot of things going on."
The Raiders' schedule will look a little different as they move into Division 2 of M.A.I.S. AAA, but Seale says they have plenty of experience after playing Jackson and Heritage Academies and scrimmaging Starkville Academy last season.
"I don't think there's much that changes. Because we played a few 3A teams," says Seale. "I think we're happy that we moved up. We're ready for it this year."
Barnes is confident, but his main concern is filling out the depth chart.
"We've got good players, we really do, we just don't have quite enough depth," says the head coach. "That' s what we're trying to find right now. We've got a core group of about 15 [to] 16 starters back, and we know what they can do. That's what we're trying to find is everybody who can play on Friday night."
Senior right tackle Chris Waldron is confident in a Raider offensive line that returns three starters. However, even he acknowledges his team will strongest on the defensive font.
The defensive line will benefit from the return of Shane Blanton, who returns from a torn ACL he suffered in last year's loss to Jackson Academy.
Lamar has big holes to fill with the graduation of running back Corey Skinner and quarterback Barrett Dudley. Junior Brett Shaffer and freshman Davis Harrison will compete for Dudley's old spot and, according to Barnes, will likely alternate as the season begins.
The raiders are top heavy, but when Starkville Academy arrives week one, Barnes' biggest task will be searching the sideline to find his next man in.