Stillwater News Press

High School Sports

August 7, 2012

Stillwater High football opens camp

STILLWATER, Okla. — It’s hard for a coach to keep his players from overexerting themselves too much early in the season, especially during the first practice.

But with one juke from Chuck Neal late in the Stillwater High School football team’s first practice of the season Tuesday, coach Tucker Barnard saw the flash of brilliance he hopes to see throughout the season.

“I hope we we’ll be seeing a lot of that from Chuck,” Barnard said. “He played a pretty important role for us on defense. This year, he could play an important role on both sides of the ball.

“He’s just an explosive football player. He can stop and start again. He’s just got a knack, a feeling, that something I’m not sure you can teach. He feels the pressure and feels the opening, and he has the speed and athleticism to get to them.”

Neal’s stop-and-go move may have left the defender grabbing at air, but it was also hardly out of the ordinary for the Pioneers.

“We had a couple of guys who really looked good,” Barnard said. “(Quarterback) Braxton Noble looked good. There’s a lot of things that he’s doing right, and we’re really excited about watching him develop. ...I thought Chuck Neal and Davyn Thompson both had  good days — I was really pleased with them. Defensively, Garrett McBroom did a great job.”

Barnard credits the team’s work in the off season to the success they had in the first practice.

“On offense and defense, not a lot of new things are happening,” Barnard said. “We’re really reviewing things that we’ve done before — things that we did last year. It’s just getting back into the swing of things. It’s good to get the dudes out here and get them running around and playing football again. There’s a little bit of excitement about it.”

Another thing Barnard is excited about? The Pioneers’ special teams.

Apart from kicker Matheus Barbosa and return man Jesse Vester, Stillwater struggled in the kicking game. With new coach Trent Worley on staff, Barnard said he’s already seen improvement from where Stillwater was last year.

“We got some good special teams work in, which is a great deal for us,” Barnard said. “We didn’t get the head start that we needed on special teams last year. Coach (Trent) Worley has added that dimension to us this year and we’re going to be a lot better in that area. We worked punt coverage today. We needed to do that.”

As the Pioneers spend the next 23 days preparing for the season-opener at McAlester, Barnard said there are some things he’d like to work on but he feels like this year’s team is actually further along than last year.

“We’ve still got some things we need to work on, but I feel good,” Barnard said. “It was a good day. We’re just going to continue to work on those things and hopefully try to get better each day.”

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