DENHAM SPRINGS – If there was one final item on his punch list before the start of fall camp, Denham Springs coach Bill Conides put an emphatic check mark next to the availability of his returning quarterback.
The Yellow Jackets combined a workout in the weight room with a brisk on-the-field session in helmets and shorts Monday, where senior Luke Lunsford was back and firing on all cylinders in a prelude to start of camp, which begins Wednesday with a team retreat.
“He’s really ahead of where I thought he’d be,” said Conides, who begins his third season. “For him to essentially take two months off, he hasn’t shown any rust leading up to our off week.”
Lunsford, who threw for single-season school records in yards (2,753) and touchdowns (27), missed the majority of the team’s spring workouts and didn’t participate in any of Denham Springs’ 7-on-7 sessions in the Baton Rouge area passing league because of a stress reaction in his back.
Lunsford participated in all phases of Monday’s workout, displaying the same accuracy and ability to spread the ball around the field.
“I thought he did very well,” Conides said. “He’s progressed very nicely. There’s no ill effects from the injury from the time off.”
Denham Springs is looking to parlay what Conides called “a tremendous summer” into the early stages of fall camp which begins in helmets and shorts before progressing to shells (helmets and shoulder pads) and eventually practices in full gear by Aug. 12.
The Yellow Jackets host Catholic High in their fall scrimmage at 6 p.m. Aug. 22 and will also entertain Dutchtown in jamboree action at approximately 7:30 p.m. Aug. 29.
“If you look per athlete, we’re certainly a lot more explosive than we’ve been in the past,” Conides said. “When you’ve got guys that have put on 20 pounds of muscle and are getting faster and more explosive with vertical jumps and all of their times are going down, it’s pretty impressive to watch.
“That’s the development we look for,” Conides said. “It’s something we’ve been able to accomplish this offseason. More explosive football players should mean more wins. I think per man we’re in good shape.”
Conides said the initial stages of fall camp are about creating a routine.
“Leading up to that point (fully-padded practices) is getting into our groove,” he said. “Getting into our practice routine, weights and ultimately school starts. For the kids it’s about time management. Football has a certain part of the day but at the end of the day we have to get up our ACT scores and GPAs as high as we can get it.”
The return of Lunsford represents the cornerstone of a Denham Springs which returns four of its five starting offensive linemen led by senior left tackle Alex Harris, a recent commitment to Brown University.
Two areas that boast little game experience but feature plenty of ability are the running backs and wide receivers.
The Yellow Jackets graduated All-Parish Offensive MVP Trevon Muse (1,420 rushing yards, 16 TDs) and will turn to a group of backs that include Patrick Isadore, Jase Zachary and Jalen Jenkins to fill that void.
“It’s going to be nice to have stable of players that can fill the void and carry the load for us,” Conides said. “We do like to run the football and in order to be good in this district you have to be able to run the ball effectively.”
Lunsford also lost his top four receiving targets to graduation but senior Phillip Earnhart and Troy Golmond displayed the ability during the spring and offseason of stepping into key roles this season.
“We’re looking for twos that can step in and be ones,” Conides said. “The more spots that kids know will give them more opportunities to see the field. The season’s long. There’s wear and tear and we’ve got to be able to depend on unproven guys to step in and make plays.”