BY HARRISON TARR
FOR THE OBSERVER
As high school football season approaches, many coaches and players are gearing up for the beginning of fall camp and season preparation. Matt Johnson and the Beulah Bobcats are a step ahead of the competition.
After going through an unconventional spring, the black and gold began their first day of fall camp on July 26, setting themselves up for a longer stint of time and earning a head start on preparations for what they hope to be a renewed chapter in a storied legacy.
“We had our first fall camp today,” Johnson said. “We didn’t have a traditional spring, so we got to start early. Some of our people are spread out through the baseball and softball season, so we get a little bit extra out of this early start.”
According to the fourth-year head coach, the Bobcats have reaped the benefits of matured leadership despite not spending a conventional spring together.
“If you ask me what’s the difference in this team, this year and last year, I can name you off a list of things,” Johnson said. “You see, I have a junior, a senior and a sophomore that are here right now. That doesn’t happen too often; that shows you our leadership across the board and tells you the type of team that we have.”
Although a point of emphasis, the Bobcats are not only focusing on leadership development on the field; quarterback Noah Higdon and tackle Jackson Blanton have traveled internationally for the betterment of others.
“Noah and Jackson were here last year,” Johnson said. “Right now, they’re in Germany on a mission trip teaching kids how to play baseball. That’s just the type of kids we have; we have really good kids. No coaches likes for them to miss practice, but what they’re doing right now is life-changing.”
Per Johnson, the combining factors have produced what he believes to be a positive environment surrounding the team going forward.
“We had a great workout so far, great leadership,” Johnson said. “That’s just what consistent programs do. They show up every day, put in the dedication, put in the hard work and the right attitude. That hasn’t happened in the past just because of some certain issues that have evolved. We have a total renewal of a team and administration.”
On the field, the Bobcat faithful has reason to be excited; the black and gold front line has the potential to be a force.
“We have four or five returning starters on the offensive line,” Johnson said. “They’re the most important people on the field. With that consistency on the offensive line, meshing well together, and just replacing one. Defensive line is the same thing, we’re replacing one…we’re able to have that depth, especially on the defensive line rotating out there.”
Johnson understands that — behind every great line — stands a quarterback with limitless opportunities. He believes Higdon is poised to capitalize.
“Noah at quarterback, he’s very consistent,” Johnson said. “He’s a great kid, one of the hardest workers.”
Beulah will open its season against the Abbeville Panthers on Friday, Aug. 19; toe will meet leather between the first-time foes at 7 p.m. CST.