It’s August, so it’s football season.
The Booneville Bearcat football team will be burning the proverbial candle on both ends this week as they start mandatory preparations for the 2019 season.
After getting a couple of days off to close out last week, fall camp began Monday morning — at 6 a.m.
The early start was necessitated because head coach Scott Hyatt and his assistants also have mandatory staff in-service training in preparation of the 2019-2020 school year.
The week will end this week with a 12:01 a.m. practice on Saturday morning.
Because the first three days are required T-shirt and helmet days, followed by two days of shorts, shoulder pads and helmet practice, the first time a team can have full contact under Arkansas Activities Association rules would be on Saturday.
The Bearcat staff is electing to have that practice at 12:01 on Saturday for the third straight year, making this year’s seniors the first to do so all three seasons.
This year’s seniors are also tasked with trying to find a way to defend the 2018 Class 3A state title and while graduation did raid the roster, the cupboard isn’t completely bare.
Back on defense are a core of five regulars led by linebacker Cam Brasher who has, in each of the last two seasons, been the leading tackler.
Last year Brasher had 33 solo and 64 assists — 7.5 tackles for a loss — to go along with three pass break-ups and two interceptions.
Senior noseguard Cort Mizell had 52 total tackles with 8.5 for a loss; Anthony McKesson is a senior defensive end who had 49 total tackles, with 10 going for a loss; Andrew Robertson had 44 tackles with nine for a loss; and Gabe Fennell had five interceptions and three pass break-ups in the secondary.
Senior Hunter Pence also rotated in enough to record 47 tackles.
Ethan Pirraglia, who has already collected two Division II scholarship offers, is the top returning offensive lineman, but has regular starting experience with him in Dominic Helms, who is reportedly the strongest player on the roster.
Other leaders back on offense include Robertson, who ran for exactly 1,000 yards and 13 touchdowns, as well as quarterback Evan Schlinker, who is 15-0 as a starter and threw for a school record 14 touchdowns and 570 yards in 2018.
McKesson doubles as a tight end in some formations and Brasher, who manned the fullback position while Carson Ray was being evaluated for a possible concussion, looks to take over at fullback. Brahser ran for 78 of his 95 yards on the season in the championship game.
The rest of this month’s schedule includes school starting on Aug. 13, the annual Purple-Gold scrimmage and “games” with the little league teams on Aug. 16, a scrimmage game at Dardanelle on Aug. 22 and the season opener at Clarksville on Aug. 3o.
The Bearcats were picked first in the league by Conference 3A-1 coaches.