Dean Smith’s biggest buzzword is adversity.
Not adversity in the tragic, “Terms of Endearment” sense, but Wossman’s first-year football coach wants to see how the Wildcats respond when things don’t go their way in a football game — What do they do when someone blows an assignment on defense, or misses a blitz pickup and all of a sudden the score’s 14-0 three minutes into the first quarter?
It’s hard to answer that question with two and a half weeks to go before the LHSAA’s opening Friday night, but Smith is trying his best to find out during practice. Smith spent the first week of August teaching Wossman how its supposed to practice. Now he’s focused on keeping everyone engaged and helping them push through the grueling sessions.
Wossman High School’s football team practices Tuesday in preparation for the upcoming season.
Smith said he feels better with how the tempo has gone on the field this week.
“You always look good in t-shirts and shorts but when you put the shoulder pads and helmets on you see if that conditioning has kicked in,” Smith said. “They’re learning you can’t get mad and walk off anymore because we’re a family now. These guys have been with me all this time so there’s no more quit in this Wildcat family. You have to suck it up and be accountable.”
Wossman already trudged through some turmoil going into the first week of school when senior wide receiver and college prospect Brandon Martin withdrew from the school for what Smith called “undisclosed reasons.” Martin has yet to resurface on the prep scene, and it’s a possibility he could continue his high school career out of state.
Smith wished Martin well but said he and the Wildcats have moved forward.
Martin’s departure got the attention of Wossman’s already solid plethora of veteran skill players. Players like juniors Ladarrius “L.T.” Thomas — a returning honorable mention all-state running back — quarterback Cameron Lewis and receivers Brandon Lewis and Orlando Williams are ready to pick up any slack in production.
“I’m trying to be all-state again so by setting an example I think the younger guys will see that and pick it up,” Thomas said. “It all starts with conditioning every day before practice and lift weights. You have to be stronger, faster and better than your opponent that’s in front of you.”
Smith found the vocal leader he’s been looking for on defense in the spring when junior defensive tackle Brandon Marshall stepped up to fill that void. New leaders have also emerged with senior Montrail Etson moving to safety full time and senior Jarvis Dean, Wossman basketball’s starting point guard, coming out for football as a cornerback.
“I’ve been starting varsity since my freshman year so I know what’s going on as far as what the coaches want,” Marshall said. “I try to do it the right way and don’t lag because I don’t want anyone else out here to fall behind.”
Wossman is taking a trip up to Shreveport on Friday night to scrimmage Northwood.
“We’re all excited to finally put the pads on somebody,” Marshall said. “We’ve gotten a lot better since the spring, and we’re learning to play hard out there.”