Each school had graduation ceremonies on Friday, cutting their normal routine back a day.
“We went nine days, eight days in pads,” said Cook. “I felt like we made a lot of progress.”
The story was much of the same for Tate’s Gents, who made it to the second round of the Class AAA playoffs in 2010.
“It was a very productive spring,” said Tate. “I’m glad we got the days in because there’s always distractions this time of year with graduations, banquets and stuff. I thought we had eight really good days and I’m pleased with where we are right now.”
What pleased both coaches was the progress that their younger players have made. Notre Dame returns nine starters from last year’s semifinal team and the Gents return 10.
“You know, spring is really good for everybody, but especially for your younger guys,” said Tate. “I think your ninth graders and 10th graders get the most out of it as far as getting the live reps and learning the terminology and the plays and that type of stuff. It went well. I mean, the seniors are gone so you’ve got ninth, 10th and 11th graders.”
Notre Dame’s youth is plentiful. The Pios finished spring with 83 varsity players on the roster and of those, 41 are going to be sophomores next year.
“About half the squad is going to be sophomores next year,” said Cook. “It’s a young team, but we have some guys coming back so we have a pretty good little nucleus.”
Although the Pios have only a handful of returning full-time starters returning, they have a plethora of players who saw extensive time during the 2010 season.
“Even though we have a lot of youngsters, that just means that our young players are going to provide the depth for us,” said Cook. “We’re not going to start a ton of sophomores. We may start two sophomores. When you look at the backups, a lot of them will be sophomores.”
Both coaches also agreed that the weather conditions were ideal for spring workouts - cool for the better part of the two-week period.
“The weather was delightful for spring training,” said Cook. “It allowed everybody at this time of the year to make more progress than you might have made when you’re just getting melted by that heat.”
Of Crowley’s eight workouts, two of them were scrimmages.
“We a scrimmaged last Friday and the players really enjoyed that,” said Tate. “They get a chance to get after it a little bit. It kind of breaks the monotony of just practicing every day. And we finished up spring with a scrimmage on Thursday and everybody did well.”
Unlike Crowley High, Notre Dame didn’t scrimmage. In fact, the Pios hold their physicality to a minimum during the two-week practice period and don’t take anyone to the ground.
“For the last 10 years, we haven’t done any type of formal scrimmage (in the spring),” said Cook. “We do a lot of work ones on ones but we don’t split them up. We go offense against defense in one-on-one situations, we do it in group situations and team situations but, we don’t formally do any type of scrimmaging. We run our offense against our defense for 15-20 minutes a day, but we’re not trying to sustain drives.”
A reason for Cook’s precaution is to avoid injury.
“Here we are in the middle of May, you know. If you get a bad injury right now, whoever it is might not play next year,” said Cook. “That’s the biggest thing.”
That is a problem the Notre Dame skipper has had to deal with in the past.
“I remember one year, we came out of spring and we lost Ben Leonards and we lost Trey Meche to knee injuries,” said Cook. “We lost Clint Meche one year. And they were lost for the year. They got hurt in spring and they didn’t play the next football season.
“That’s always been a concern and the biggest reason why I don’t try to let them see who can beat who in any type of game situation. We have enough time to get ready for games.”
Fortunately, neither Notre Dame or Crowley High lost any players to injury this spring.
“We didn’t have any injuries and that’s a blessing,” said Cook.
Tate’s squad got a little banged up during their workouts but there were no serious injuries.
“One of the most positive things is that we had no injuries that are going to be holding anybody out next year,” said Tate. “That is good because you’re always concerned about injuries at this time of the year. We were pretty clean with injuries, just a lot of bumps and bruises and we expect that during the spring camp.”
Both Crowley High and Notre Dame will take about a week off before beginning summer workouts.