MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Prep Sports

May 29, 2014

Run game, physicality theme of MHS spring

Two things that have come out of Muskogee’s spring football session which ends today have been the establishment of a running game and a physically demanding two weeks.

Running back Jacouri Freeman has benefited from both.

“We’ve been more hurt than we was last spring ball,” he said. “It’s ones versus ones, not ones versus twos. The men are on the field and every time we step on the field, it’s a war. You don’t know whether you’re coming off.”

To clarify Freeman’s definition of “hurt,” it’s those bumps and bruises from pad-popping, most of it which eases up with a hot bath, bed rest and nutrition.

But it’s something that longtime casual observers wanted when Rafe Watkins moved in from Guthrie as the new head coach in February.

“I wanted to see how physical we were going to be and how tough we were going to be and so far, so good,” he said.

“In order to be physical you’ve got to learn it, you’ve got to play it, every day. You can’t just go out and play tag and all of a sudden on Friday night expect them to go out and knock each other’s head off. You can’t get in the physical shape for it. It’s one thing to be in shape wind-wise, but you’ve got to be in shape to take hits and get back up play after play.”

Muskogee had 253 rushes in 10 games last year, 88 by the quarterback which was usually Quintahj Cherry. Tyriq Beasley had 71 for 332 yards and Freeman got 60 carries for 292 yards.

Those numbers will see a sharp rise. Freeman, Beasley, Cantrell Ashley and Molizah Gilbert will figure in getting the majority of those. Watkins has been impressed with that group.

“Jacoury and Cantrell and Gilbert are all really physical kids and then you throw Tyriq in, you get a different look with a kid that’s 125 pounds soaking wet but can make a 15-yard gain before anyone knows it,” Watkins said.

Freeman was asked how he’s developed since last year.

“I don’t know. I can’t say I’m different,” he said. “Same guy, different system, more carries.”

And he doesn’t mind the aches from the pounding.

“It’s a real game, like we want it to be,” he said. You want to have fun but you have to go hard.”

It’s also been an adjustment for the offensive line which has been used to being predominantly a pass-block unit. Adonis Cole is back at left tackle, Zane Rasmussen at left guard, Logan Stovall at center and  Jacolby Anderson next to him at right guard, with the question and most competition at right tackle.

How they are handling the adjustment — well, just ask one of the guys whose soaking time will depend on them.

“They’re adapting pretty well,” Freeman said. “There’s times we go through the hole and not get touched. Sometimes they mess up, you help them get back up because you don’t want anyone’s confidence down. You want them back in the trenches ready to go again.”

Spring drills finish on Friday. Summer Pride starts June 9. Passing leagues start later in the month and the Roughers’ team camp is in July. There will not be a trip to the University of Tulsa team camp.

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