2017-08-11 / Sports

Getting down to business

With basics covered, Badgers move on to full-contact drills today
BY JEFF LOWE
DISPATCH RECORD


Sean Williams follows a block as he carries the ball during practice Wednesday. 
JEFF LOWE | DISPATCH RECORD Sean Williams follows a block as he carries the ball during practice Wednesday. JEFF LOWE | DISPATCH RECORD If you ask Offensive Coordinator Heath Naragon, the hardest part of two-a-days is over, and the fun starts today.

The Badgers’ first full-contact drills are today, after four days of conditioning Monday through Thursday.

“Day 1 through 3, they’re always the hardest, ’cause it’s new every single day,” Naragon said. “So, I think they’re doing a really good job. It should be easier from here on out.”

Naragon, Defensive Coordinator Jesse Johnson and Head Coach Troy Rogers all are in their second year with the Badgers.

Coaches are not giving away any starting positions, but they expect players to earn those spots right up until the week of the first game. Naragon and Johnson did mention some emerging playmakers, though.

“Sean Williams, he rushed for 900 yards last year,” Naragon said of his senior runningback. “He’s gotten a lot stronger. He was third place in state in powerlifting. He’s gotten faster, more explosive, so we’re expecting a lot out of him.”


Logan Trotter, left, tries to fight off a block from Ripley Kiser on Wednesday. 
JEFF LOWE | DISPATCH RECORD Logan Trotter, left, tries to fight off a block from Ripley Kiser on Wednesday. JEFF LOWE | DISPATCH RECORD Daunte Cuffie, in 2016, was the first Badger freshman to start on varsity in years. As a sophomore in the new position of inside receiver, Cuffie also is experienced, talented and athletic.

Naragon also hopes for good things out of senior Brandon Pierino, one of the Badgers’ leading receivers last season.

Johnson said the biggest differences in this year’s defense are speed and accountability.

Players are more accountable for their assignments because this is the second year under the Rogers system.

“Kids no longer have an excuse of, ‘Well, we just learned that,’ ” Johnson said. “Now it’s, ‘Hey, we learned that a year ago. We’ve got a year under our belt.’ ”

The defensive coordinator also said the Badgers have a lot of speed up front and an athletic line.

Senior defensive linemen Logan Trotter and Levi Rainwater and defensive end Seth Cockrell are returning varsity players that Johnson expects a lot out of.

Linebackers John Esparza, Landon Irvin and Michael Nguyen are part of the reason Johnson says this year’s team has more speed than last year.

“That group runs 4.6s [in the 40-yard dash], and they can move,” the coach said.

In the secondary, Dylan Kannan has shown a lot of improvement since his first varsity season as a sophomore in 2106.

Nguyen, a senior, said effort and focus will be the keys to a turnaround from last season.

“We’ve got to put our head in the game,” he said. “Last year, we’d be sluggish. We wouldn’t have energy in the game, and that’s what we really need this year, just a lot of energy, and people putting their heads in the game.”

Nguyen added that several teammates are contributing a lot, including Cockrell at defensive end.

“He’s always there doing the correct stuff and always helping out the team,” Nguyen said.

The Badgers’ first full-contact practice this morning is from 6:30-7:45 a.m., and they return from 4-7 p.m.

On Saturday, an intra-squad scrimmage is scheduled from 9-11:30 a.m. A picnic for players’ families is from 10 a.m. to noon at the high school.

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Quarterback coach Justin Reeves, in his first season at that position, said decision-making ability will be key in determining a starter.

Sophomores Ethan Rascoe, Cameron Everts, Jason Andrews and Ryan Linney, plus freshmen Parker Gibbs, Ace Whitehead and Peyton Underwood took snaps in practice this week.

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