Heading into Tuesday’s benefit game with Class 3A Bald Knob, Carlisle coach Mark Uhiren said fall camp had gone well for his Bison.
“We’ve got some ankles kind of sore, but I don’t think it’s anything that will keep them from playing,” he said. “I’m about the only one banged up. I can’t get around on my knee. I’ve been struggling with it, so I’ve been coaching from the golf cart, and I’m not used to that.
“But we’re getting it done, and I think they’re OK.”
The weather has been fickle. Uhiren said he worried about the unusually cool conditions in the early part of camp.
“Then the heat came back and got them a little (last week), but I think that’s kind of typical,” he said. “I pushed them and kept pushing them through it. They never backed up. They stayed and worked through it.”
Uhiren praised the recent work of senior Mitch Lewis, who moves this year from defensive tackle to linebacker in addition to his offensive guard role.
“Mitch has come a long way,” the coach said. “He had a lot on his plate when you change positions as a senior, but he’s doing pretty good at linebacker.
“If I had to give anybody the nod for the best improved overall for every practice, it would be Blake Sumner. We thought he was athletic, and he worked hard in the weight room, but he was kind of timid about stuff, and we weren’t sure he’d come out of that. But we kept working with him and pulling him along, and it seems like he’s kind of gotten through the tough times right now. He’s made a lot of progress.”
Uhiren said junior Braiden Jenkins seemed a little more settled and in command of what’s going on at quarterback this year.
Sophomore Kam Taylor also drew praise at running back.
“He’s a young fellow who’s probably as knowledgeable about what I want them to do as anybody out there,” Uhiren said. “I over-coached him. He accepts it and understands it, and I don’t have to repeat it. He wants to move on.
“He’s real easy to coach. Between us now, it’s just a nod, a look, a thumbs-up, and it wasn’t that way before.”
Carlisle will play host to its county rival, Class 4A Lonoke, in the season opener Sept. 1.
“All I’ve read is that there’s excitement and their numbers are up,” Uhiren said of the Jackrabbits. “Last year, their numbers got us anyway (after just a 14-12 LHS lead at halftime). But I promised the kids, ‘You’re going to be better next year. You’ll be more confident, more settled, more athletic.’ I promised them that if they’d get in the weight room and work hard, they’d be better prepared this time, and I think it might be interesting.
“It would be really big for us if we could win that one at home.”