The Vardaman Rams know all about close.
“They still remember North Half. They still remember what happened,” fifth-year Vardaman coach Justin Hollis said. “They’re trying to get better.”
What happened was a 12-6 loss to Shaw in the Class 1A North finals.
The want-to is there Hollis said. Players even requested a pair of extra conditioning stations on the second of the week’s three two-a-days.
“It’s been great,” Hollis said. “We’ve had three great days of attitude, kids getting after it and learning. Absolutely no complaints.”
Senior quarterback Cody Jenkins is part of that experience. He threw for 1,158 yards and 12 touchdowns on a team that rushed for 2,227 yards and 29 touchdowns.
Vardaman opens 1-1A play at Falkner on Sept. 6. It could go a long way to determining who wins the division that also features Smithville.
Hollis and Falkner coach Ben Ashley are good friends. The two coached together for a couple of years under Pat Byrd at Amory.
“Coach Ashley has done a great job up there. I think they’re going to be a really, really good football team this year,” Hollis said. “A lot of people say it’s not a lot of fun playing your friends but we’re close and we have fun with with.”
What Hollis said:
“We have a lot of experience coming back. I feel like our line of scrimmage guys have done well. That’s a senior group. The first practice we had, we were just clicking. That’s the first time – this is my fifth year – we’ve been like that on the first day. The kids are in good shape. They’ve handled the heat well.”
“It’s so quick when we play. The main thing is to get in the best shape we can. We know not everything is going to be perfect to start with. We’re going to miss this block or not have this technique right, that kind of thing. The main thing is to get in the best shape we possibly can and just get better every day.”
Donta Walker will move from wide receiver – where he had seven TDs – to running back. “He kind of gives us a two-headed monster.”
Ta West will be a junior receiver, as will junior James Avant, an unknown yet speedy asset.
Vardaman will go to Water Valley for a jamboree Friday. “We play them because we know they’re going to get after us and we can see what we’re made of initially.” The Rams also play at Bruce on Aug. 24. “I feel like they could be it in 2A this year. they’re loaded, to the gills.”