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Eagles want to answer lineup questions tonight

By VINCENT THOMAS
Published August 17, 2006


The beginning of Wednesday's practice at Springstead featured a bunch of reminders, warnings and cautions from coach Bill Vonada.

Today, the Eagles host Land O'Lakes, a Class 5A squad led by Division I prospect Joe Weatherford, whom some recruiting analysts call one of Florida's top quarterbacks.

"And they're a really good 5A school, too," Vonada said.

With a daunting opponent just a day away, Springstead was more concerned with ironing out wrinkles in the game plan and drilling newcomers with game procedures.

"See, right there, if I'm running at you, I'm blocking that punt," Vonada barked.

"Wait, unacceptable. You told me you knew what to do," was his response to another player's formation mishap.

But that's what tonight's game is for.

"You know, it has only been 21/2 weeks," the coach said. "There's still an awful lot that we need to improve."

So you won't see starters taking the brunt of the snaps. Ultimately, quarterback John Hogeland remains the only Eagle with a concrete starting position. Others might have earned the right to start, but the coaching staff is looking for tonight's game to shed more light on specific positioning.

"We're going to be shuffling a lot of guys in and out," Vonada said. "We're going to try guys out at some different positions. We'll be doing a few other things to determine where each guy fits best."

The backfield - Victor Schick, David Bushnell and Jason Haynes - is a packed bunch as is the linebacker corps, where senior Josh Magrini and sophomores Jake Earp and Nate Schafer have impressed.

All of the linebackers likely will see time at other positions in the midst of Springstead's game of position-shuffling.

Meanwhile, it's finally time for the reigning county champs and 4A-8 runnerup to get 2006 under way.

Players such as Schick and Hogeland have repeatedly mentioned how eager they were to get on the field and face opposition that doesn't go to Springstead. Land O'Lakes is the season's first test.

When talk turned to tonight's game at Wednesday's practice, Vonada offered this bit of motivation:

"Look good, feel good, be good, play good."

Yes, it's the preseason, when victories don't count and wins might not be as much of a priority as finalizing starting positions and tending to formation kinks. But the mood wasn't light by any means.

"It's the day before our game," Vonada told the squad Wednesday.

"We need to prepare our mind for battle."

Vincent Thomas can be reached at 352 848-1430 or vthomas@sptimes com.