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The Kirk Academy Raiders will take to the practice field for the first time this season Thursday at 7 a.m. It will be the start of two-a-day work for the squad. They will have the annual jamboree Aug. 14 at North Delta and host Meet the Raiders Aug. 15. Getting equipment for the season are (from left) Baker Blake, Zach Beckum, Robbie Jackson, Paxton Hames, and Jacob Moore. Staff Photo/Chuck Hathcock

 
By CHUCK HATHCOCK
Sports Editor


   Coming off a disappointing 2-8 mark last season, the Kirk Raiders set their sights on 2014 with the start of fall camp Thursday morning at 7 a.m.
   The start will mark year two at the school for veteran coach John McCrory. He is looking forward to seeing just how much improvement his squad has made building off a solid spring practice.
   “The guys have been working hard in the offseason trying to get better,” McCrory said. “We have made some strides, hopefully we can show some improvement.”
   The Raiders are expected to be 30 players comprised of 9-12th graders through workouts.
Low numbers at the high school level have forced McCrory to use some freshman in games this season. They are allowed up to six quarters a week of action.
   Kirk has practice scheduled for 7 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. through the start of school. That schedule is subject to change, according to McCrory. Players must go through three days of shorts and helmets before putting on full gear.
   The morning workouts will consist of defensive work along with the kicking game. There will be a short period of team offense to close out practice.
   Defense was a sore point for the Raiders last season. They allowed an average of 39 points a game in the eight losses last season.
   “I thought we showed some improvement on the defensive side of the football,” McCrory said. “We have concentrated on tackling, getting off blocks, and flowing to the ball correctly. Hopefully, we can continue to get better. We just gave up way too many points last season.”
   That afternoon, the team will concentrate primarly on the offensive side of the ball. Conditioning will be stressed during each practice. With a small number of players, this will be a vital part of practice each day.
   Kirk is scheduled to have a preseason scrimmage in Louisville Aug. 8 against Winston Academy.
   The annual District 1-AA Jamboree is scheduled for North Delta School in Batesville on Aug. 14. Kirk will have a 20-minute quarter each against two different opponents to be determined.
   Meet the Raiders is set for Aug. 15. The season opener will take place Aug. 22 at Marshall.
   Kirk opens the season Aug. 29 against Lee Academy of Marianna, Arkansas.
   Week 3 will see the district opener at home against Winona Christian.


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