• Fort White linebackers coach Rufus Jefferson walks defensive end Anquan Higgins (right) and right tackle Matt DiMauro (left) through a drill Tuesday.
    Fort White linebackers coach Rufus Jefferson walks defensive end Anquan Higgins (right) and right tackle Matt DiMauro (left) through a drill Tuesday.

PREP FOOTBALL: Indians begin training camp with lofty goals

Fort White returns with depth on both sides of the ball in 2018.

FORT WHITE – The tribe is back to work.

The Indians opened fall practice this week, returning to the field as giddy as can be, hoping this is the year they bring the school its first state title.

New team, new campaign – for the returners, it's a feeling hard to describe.

"There's nothing like it, especially when you’ve got such a good team coming back," right tackle Matt DiMauro said. "We're expecting for it all to come together real quick. Next week, we get into pads. And that's when we'll see who wants to be a top dog and who doesn't want to be a top dog."

After a grueling summer of conditioning and workouts, the Indians put their helmets back on for their first taste of fall ball this week. It's been a productive week thus far as players continue to build on the last seven months of offseason work.

Not even daily rain showers have halted the Indians this week.

"It's been very positive," Fort White head coach Demetric Jackson said. "This is one of the first times, I recall, where we're working on correcting technique. For the most part, we're teaching technique instead of formation, plays. We had a really good summer and the guys' attitudes are there. So it's very positive."

Jackson says he hasn't seen this kind of continuity entering fall since the 2017 class graduated which included his son, D.J., and several other veteran players.

"The only difference between that group (and this one) is we had about five of those guys who had to play both sides of the ball," the 11th-year coach said.

This year Fort White is slated to be a two-platoon team, no longer relying on players to play both on offense and defense. Jackson says this was made possible by the maturation of key sophomores who earned playing time last year. Those same players – along with addition of a few transfers – have afforded the Indians an opportunity to specialize at skill positions and on the offensive/defensive line.

With an experienced defense and a revitalized offense, the Indians like their chances as they look to be the last team standing in Region 1-3A in December. After a first round exit during the state playoffs last season, the Indians start training camp with no extra motivation needed.

"The ultimate goal this year is going all the way, that's what we're working for," wide receiver Kanell Stewart.

Less than a month away from the season opener, Fort White will spend the next few weeks of practice meshing together and executing the playbook. The Indians will endure their first test against Trenton in the Preseason Classic on Aug. 17. Until then, the tribe looks to keep polishing and sharpening their tools before battle time.

"We want to keep progressing," Jackson said. "One of the best things I think that's happened for us, on both sides of the ball, our guys know so much of what we're trying to do that we're not coaching formations. Now it's coaching technique, which generally in our system, (first two games) we got to be pretty vanilla and gradually build up into (more complex) formations. But right now, they know what to do."

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