The Greenville Lions will take their first practice test on Saturday morning when they face Dallas teams from Roosevelt and Carter in a three-team football scrimmage.
The scrimmage is to start at 9 a.m. at John Kincaide Stadium, 9191 South Polk in Dallas.
“The big thing for us is to block and tackle somebody,” said Lions coach Darren Duke.
Duke said without the Lions going through spring football in May, “it seems like it’s been a long time” since the Lions they’ve had much contact.
Since Nov. 9, to be exact, when the Lions ended the 2018 football season with a loss to Ennis.
The 2019 Lions have broken from tradition, passing up spring football to start a week early with preseason workouts. In the past the Lions went through three weeks of spring training, capping it with a Red-White intrasquad game. Without spring training, there was no Red-White game.
With the University Interscholastic League’s continued emphasis on safety, the Lions have had limited contact in their preseason practices, which started on Aug. 5 at about 12:10 a.m. This scrimmage will better help the Lions simulate game-type conditions.
“I want to see us just perform at game speed is the main thing,” said Duke. “Watch us go full speed and live and block and take people to the ground.”
Duke said the Lions will rotate against scrimmage opponents Roosevelt and Carter. The plan is for the varsities to scrimmage on one side of the playing field, while the junior varsities scrimmage on the other side. Duke estimates the scrimmage will last about 90 minutes.
“I know Roosevelt doesn’t have a lot of kids,” he said.
The Lions’ freshmen will scrimmage Lancaster’s ninth graders at 6 p.m. on Friday at T.A. “Cotton” Ford Stadium. Duke said Roosevelt and Carter, which are Class 4A schools, do not have enough players to field freshman teams.
Roosevelt went 1-9 last season and is picked by “Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Magazine” to place fifth in District 5-4A-II.
Carter was a 6-5 playoff team in 2018 and was picked by the magazine to finish third in District 8-4A-I.
Duke said the Lions will face some speedy athletes from both teams.
“They’ll be a lot of speed,” he said. “That’s what we’ve got to get prepared for anyway.”
Carter has a solid tradition, even being a part of the “Friday Night Lights” book and film.
“Carter’s always had their share of athletes,” said Duke.
Roosevelt’s new head coach Aaron Wallace was a standout defensive player at Roosevelt, Texas A&M and with the Raiders in the NFL.
The Lions are hoping to improve on last season’s 2-7 record and eighth-place finish in the nine-team District 8-5A-II. They return quarterbacks Brandon Stephens and Josh Luna, who both got a lot of playing time last season, plus their leading receiver Miles Denson (34 catches, 346 yards), leading rusher Lester Turner (117-565, 10 TDs) and two all-district defenders Jeremiah Abrego and Tucker Momon, among others.
Duke said the Lions’ preseason practices have been going well, though the Lions have been dealing with the Texas heat.
“The last couple of days the heat was the overall champion but we fought through it,” he said. “This time of year it’s always a grind.”
He said a cloud cover on Wednesday did help the Lions a little. The Lions have been practicing from 6 to 8 p.m.
The Lions will also scrimmage at Dallas Seagoville on Aug. 23 before opening the 2019 season on Aug. 30 at home against W.T. White of Dallas.
“We’re on a game-week routine, preparing for our opponents,” said Duke.