Ellwood Christian confident after productive spring practices

Published 10:05 pm Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Ellwood’s Michael Smith hauls in a pass during practice earlier this month. Smith is one of a few Eagles returning from last year’s team. Ellwood head football coach Mike Stokes said the team saw an increase in players on the field this spring after playing with as few as 16 last season. -- Robert Hudson

The Ellwood Christian Academy Eagles finished up spring football practices in preparation for their first year as members of the Alabama High School Athletic Association.

Mike Stokes, head football coach of Ellwood, said he was overall pleased with how spring practices went for the Eagles.

“It went well, we got a lot out of it and we got a chance to install a little offense and a little defense,” Stokes said. “We got a chance to teach some of the young people about how we do things and how we don’t do things.”

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Stokes said the Eagles finish the spring knowing they’ll have a ton of weapons at their disposal on the offensive side of the ball, but he believes that if Ellwood can continue to develop in the trenches, it may be looking at a potentially great season.

“Our linemen have got to get a little stronger,” Stokes said. “We have the athletes, but if we can put together a good offensive line and get them ready — get them stronger — I think we’ll have a pretty good season.”

This spring saw the Eagles begin the process of adding some triple option alongside their spread attack.

Stokes said the Eagles only worked in half of the new offensive components, and will look to finish the process in the fall.

“It went well. We got about 50 percent of it put in during the spring,” Stokes said. “We’re just going to come back August 1 and put another 50 percent in and get ready for (the season opener) Francis Marion.”

The spring also marked Ellwood’s first as a member of the AHSAA Class 1A Region 3 after competing in the Alabama Independent School Association last season.

Stokes said the biggest thing that will help the Eagles in that transition will be the number of players that they were able to suit up in the spring.

“I think numbers will be (a key factor),” Stokes said. “Like I said, last year we only had 16 or 17 (players), and this spring we sometimes had 30 or 35 kids, but we’ve got to be a little more disciplined and we’ve definitely got to be in good shape to play the schedule that we have. I was just really happy with spring. I really was. I was more happy with the numbers than anything. I was just glad to see 30 to 35 ball players instead of 16 or 17.”