May 18—With full pads and the quick reports of a whistle, football returned to Hook Eales Stadium in McAlester on Monday for the first day of spring practice.
Coach Forrest Mazey said afterward that it was exciting to return to the gridiron with a little sense of normalcy after the last long and difficult year.
"It's nice to be back out," he said. "We have all the kids back, and it's nice to see. It kind of feels normal, you don't have as many protocols. It's just nice to be at it again and pick up where we left off."
The Buffs will return a lot of high-profile talent, as well as a new group of young players eager to prove themselves on the field.
But to be ready for the first game in August, Mazey said they're going to have to put a lot of work in between now and then to continue McAlester's success.
"Obviously, a lot of things got to fall your way, and you've got to have a lot of health," he said. "And you've got to get better over the spring, and over the summer."
Speaking on the newest members of the team, Mazey said one of the goals for them will be getting them used to the Buffs' tempo and style of play. Class 5A football is a new world for them, but one that he said they'll pick up on as they go though the practices.
"We've got young kids out here who's heads are kind of spinning. So, it's kind of a weird deal," Mazey said. "So we're having to recoup and regain the thought process we have over here, and just the speed of things and intensity is a little different."
But he admitted that getting into that rhythm isn't just for the young Buffs, but for the entire team as a whole — all the way up to the coaching staff.
"Getting back into football shape is a little different, and getting back to the tempo of how I like to do things," he said. "That's always the adjustment, even for us coaches, getting back into the tempo of how things are done and getting back to the norm. It just feels awkward right now."
But in any case, Mazey was thrilled to just be back out on the field and working as a team once again. And he looks forward to the development they'll go through this summer as they prepare for the 2021 season.
"It'll be fun," he said. "I'm excited for this group, and excited for their opportunity."
Contact Derek Hatridge at firstname.lastname@example.org.