By Eric Norwood Jr.
PNT staff writer
It was obvious by the intensity and direction of Monday morning’s gathering of football hopefuls that this wasn’t just a summer workout.
This was real practice at Portales High School, and it showed as the Rams began preparing for the upcoming football season.
Everyone looked in sync, from the bright red helmets down to the matching ram shirts and gray shorts. As music blared from the PA system, coaches bellowed instructions, gave praise, and corrected mistakes. With less than three weeks from their first scrimmage on Aug. 23, PHS coach Jaime Ramirez and his staff are going to work.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Ramirez acknowledged.
With at least 55 prospects in attendance, there was no time wasted. With the first practice beginning at 6 a.m., players had to get up bright and early.
“Having the practice early in the morning lets us miss some of that heat and push them a little more in conditioning,” said defensive coordinator Victor Lopez.
The team was broken into position specific drills for the majority of practice. Receiving drills had guys catching long passes, and learning the intricacies of route running, such as knowing what leg to plant on and how to secure a caught ball quickly.
Offensive linemen practiced their footwork, going through a ladder drill to increase foot speed as well as techniques necessary for correctly coming out of a three-point stance and finding blocks. Quarterbacks and running backs worked on hand-offs, ball fakes and other techniques to help an offense run smooth.
“On offense, we want to be able to score on at least 50 percent of all possessions,” Ramirez said.
Linebackers and defensive linemen worked on techniques to beat an offensive lineman, such as the swim and rip techniques. Defensive backs worked on pass defense, including the tip drill to practice making interceptions, and the rip drill, where players rip the ball from the ballcarrier from behind to practice forcing fumbles.
“On defense we want to stop the other team from scoring and give the ball back to our offense,” Ramirez said. “Can’t make it any simpler than that.”
In every drill, knowing where to line up and the names of formations and plays was vital.
“The older guys already have experience in the system and they pick it up faster,” Lopez said. “This enables them to play with more confidence.”
The Rams made the playoffs last season despite a 2-8 record, but lost in the first round to Las Vegas Robertson by a score of 40-26. Portales will open its 2013 season at home against Robertson on Aug. 30.