The Live Oak football team will wrap up spring drills traveling to face Bay, Miss., at 7 p.m. Friday, but for Eagles coach Blane Westmoreland, the biggest thing is that his team had spring drills in the first place this season after COVID-19 put the clamps on last spring’s sports seasons.
“For us, it’s just getting back to football, really just getting in and trying to take advantage of something we didn’t have last year,” Westmoreland said. “This is our first spring together with the guys and just being able to have a spring and review what we need to review, maybe put some kids in a different spot. Just having that has been huge for us. Really, you get in there and see what we have but also start to kind of hone in on some things, fine tune the offense and preach physicality to the entire team.”
There aren’t any changes scheme-wise this spring as the Eagles are sticking with the wing-T offense and a 3-4 base defense, but there are some areas the team has focused on this spring.
“We return a few kids on both sides of the ball, so some of that picture was already together,” Westmoreland said.
Brock Magee, last year’s starter at quarterback, graduated. Tyler Graves, who backed up Magee last season, and Graves’ younger brother, Garrett Graves, are getting reps under center along with incoming freshman Sawyer Pruitt.
“It’s really trying to figure out who’s going to win that quarterback job,” Westmoreland said. “Last year, Brock did a very good job of grabbing a hold to it and did an outstanding job. This year, it’s breaking in a new guy. The positive is both the Graves brothers have been in the system for a year now, so they know what we want, what we do, what we expect.”
The Eagles return virtually all of their offensive backfield from last season, led by TJ Magee, Bentz Borne, Lane Hilbun and fullback Daylen Lee and all of its receiving corps in Chase Jones, CJ Davis and Cade Getwood.
“We’re really excited about the depth of our backfield and what’s back there in our running backs,” Westmoreland said.
On the offensive line, guards Jake Aldy and Andy Retecki return along with tackle Nathan Curtis, while Brody Ray is a new starter at tackle with Brady Odell and Caleb Rioux working to replace Rhett Bates at center.
“We’re just trying to put them in the right place and see if we maybe need to move somebody and move some guys around and see what happens,” Westmoreland said. “Offensively, I feel really good.”
On defense, Magee, Davis and Aiden Saunders will be back in the secondary, along with Skyler Martin and Kash Doiron, Tyler Maher, Will Andrepont at linebacker and Luke Ydarraga on the defensive line.
“We’ve got to fill in some missing spots,” Westmoreland said, noting the Eagles lost Kyle Kitto and Branson McCoy to graduation. “We’re looking at rotating some guys in. Caleb Smith looks to me like he’s working real hard there. Tae Henyard’s made the switch over from offense to defense, and we’re looking at him there.”
“We’re excited about what we have returning,” Westmoreland continued, noting Garrett Davies also moved from offense to defense to play linebacker and safety. “It (spring) gave us a chance to see our kids in kind of a different setting. We wanted to challenge them, and we wanted to put them on both sides of the ball and see which one they shined at the most. After nine practices, I really feel like we were able to do that. This is, in my opinion, one of the better springs that we’ve had or I’ve been a part of with just really being able to see what we’ve got, try guys in different areas and really just try to put that puzzle together and make the best thing out of it.”
The Eagles get to test their progress against Bay, Miss.
“I think it’s a very good challenge for us,” Westmoreland said. “We’re going to get some good work in. JV is going to get a couple quarters in, and the varsity guys will get in and get a couple of quarters in. It’s definitely going to be worth our trip to go over there. It gives our kids an opportunity to see somebody that they’ve never seen, give our kids an opportunity to compete at a different location. We’re excited for it.”