After a disappointing end to the season, the Coyotes football team is back at work.
The first spring practice of the year kicked off on March 18. Spring practices will continue through April 21, which is the date of the spring game, and the final practice before the summer workouts.
The team is looking to take advantage of the early opportunity to get work in before the season, and to help the younger members of the team develop.
Senior linebacker John Wessel said the team continues to grow every day and he’s already seen progress in the first five practices.
“We are really focused on growing as a team,” Wessel said. “It’s awesome to see (the progress) after coming out from a tough season, and seeing a lot of these younger guys really step up and make big plays, know the schemes and get better every day.”
Last season the Coyotes finished the year on a four-game losing streak and lost a large amount of roster depth due to injuries.
The Coyotes struggled mostly with both offensive and defensive linemen last season, but addressed their depth issue with this year’s signing class, head coach Bob Nielson said.
This season’s class, which will begin practice with the team this summer, includes 31 players, more than half of which are linemen.
Now, the team is hoping to recover and come out stronger than ever to win the conference.
“Hopefully we keep on growing so by the end of the year we can go out and give it a shot at winning the Missouri Valley (Conference),” Wessel said.
Nielson said he thinks the team can achieve their goal of winning the conference if they work to get ahead this early in the year.
“I think we showed last year that we were certainly capable of playing competitively with anybody in the league and this year we are just striving toward winning,” he said. “We have the focus that we need to be a better football team than we were a year ago, and spring practice has to be a major step in that going in that direction.”
Nielson said he thinks the team is making great progress already this spring.
“We are a third of the way done with spring practices now and we’ve gotten some stuff done and are certainly way ahead of where we were last year at this time,” he said.