The Mustangs had their preseason and week one games canceled.
Missing a preseason game is one thing.
The game doesn’t count toward your record. The play books used are vanilla. It’s about getting players game experience more than anything, working out any unanticipated issues that did not arise in practice.
Missing that and your first regular season game? That’s the last thing you want, especially as a new coach. But that is what Rashad West is facing at Lakewood Ranch High.
The team’s Aug. 16 preseason contest against Osceola High was scrapped because of excessive rain, and the team’s opening game, thought to be against Ida Baker High on Aug. 23, was canceled Aug. 21 because of a scheduling miscommunication. West said he was handed the team’s schedule when he was hired in March, and Ida Baker was on it.
He was under the impression the game was finalized. Ida Baker, apparently, was not. The Bulldogs played at Mariner High instead, and won 17-14.
Lakewood Ranch and Ida Baker are attempting to reschedule their game for later in the season. That doesn’t help the Mustangs much now, though. Lakewood Ranch will enter its Aug. 30 game against Lemon Bay High at a disadvantage when it comes to game experience. That concerns West, who said he is worried about all facets of his team.
Not only have the Mustangs not seen live action, they have not had much practice time. West said the team was able to have two full practices the week of Aug. 19-23. Before then, the last full practice they had was Aug. 7, thanks to all the rain.
The silver lining to missing the Aug. 23 game was getting in more real practices, West said.
The team practices in the school gym on those rainy days, but those hardly replicate the real thing. They mostly go over formations and alignment, West said. You can’t tackle or get physical with blocking. You can’t practice kicking or punting. And that’s not all.
“Losing the days we did makes it difficult to evaluate players,” West said. “We had kids come in and put in the work over the summer, but we cannot see everything we want to see without practice. Our starters are still not totally set (as of Aug. 23) because of that.”
West is itching to get his Mustangs career officially started. His players are, too. West said they tell him every day how ready they are to prove themselves to the area. Once West sees his team run onto the field in unity, he said, he anticipates it will finally feel real.
Until then, all Lakewood Ranch can do is wait and pray for sunny practice days.
Meanwhile, The Out-of-Door Academy had a smooth season opener. The Thunder defeated Canterbury High 38-22 at home. Senior running back Colin Castro continued the success he found in 2018 with touchdown runs of 90 and 60 yards. Senior J.J. Easto also had a big game, recording three sacks.
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