The Booneville Bearcats are set to wrap up spring football tomorrow.
Head coach Scott Hyatt will have put the players through seven of the allowable 10 spring practices, with three last Tuesday through Thursday and scheduled practices Monday through Thursday of this week.
One of last week’s practices was in full pads and Hyatt had two of those sessions planned for this week.
He’s more worried about injury than not conducting the maximum number of practices available, which other schools will likely utilize.
“I know how physical we are. I don’t want to get anybody hurt,” Hyatt said of his 43 player Thursday.
That was already down from the 46 who started the spring drills just two days earlier.
The Bearcats are coming off a 10-2 season in which they won a conference title, had a first round playoff bye, won a second round game for their 10th straight win before falling to Pea Ridge in the quarterfinals.
Back from that campaign is a senior laden team with most starting positions already with an incumbent, including, at times, the entire backfield of quarterback Brandon Ulmer, fullback Carson Ray and halfbacks Michael Hesson and Andrew Robertson.
Ulmer ran for 762 yards and five touchdowns. He threw for another 810 with nine touchdowns. Ray ran for 15 touchdowns and 637 yards. Hesson ran for 492 yards and Robertson added 393 more.
Ray had 16 total touchdowns, a point after and a two point conversion for 99 total points.
Leading receiver Ethan Dobbs is also back in the fold. Dobbs had 22 receptions for 483 yards and five touchdowns. With another 207 yards in kickoff returns, 149 yards in punt returns and 64 on interception returns, Dobbs had a team best 907 all purpose yards.
Experienced linemen returning on one, or both sides of the ball include Sammy Haynes, Marcus Nichols, Grayson Schlinker, Ethan Pirraglia and Mark Phonlasouk.
Defensively the Bearcats have their top seven tacklers back this year, including Noah Reyes who had a team best 40 solo tackles. Among his 76 tackles, were 16.5 stops for a loss, with three sacks.
Cam Brasher had 84 total tackles, Hesson had 55 and Nichols had 57 with 7.5 for a loss. Ulmer made 43 stops and Jeremy Elliott 34.
Kicker Austin Dobbs, whose last second field goal beat Nashville, will graduate Thursday night but coming up for the junior high is Gavin Kent, who kicked a 35-yard field goal in his final junior high game.
Also moving up is Jacob Herrera, who caught 20 passes last year and worked his way into a starting role for the baseball Bearcats this spring.
The 2018 schedule is as follows:
Aug. 16: Dardanelle (scrimmage)
Aug. 24: Clarksville
Aug. 31: at Ozark
Sept. 7: Pottsville
Sept. 14: Open
Sept. 21: at Paris
Sept. 28: West Fork (Homecoming)
Oct. 5: at Greenland
Oct. 12: Mansfield
Oct. 19: Charleston (Senior Night)
Oct. 26: at Lamar
Nov. 2: at Cedarville