With the start of the 2018-2019 school year just weeks away, the Bullard Panther football program has begun working to prepare for the upcoming season on the gridiron, as the annual two-a-day practices started on Monday, Aug. 6.
“We’re excited about it being that time of year again,” said Scott Callaway, Bullard Panther head football coach and athletic director. “Friday Night Lights are coming in just a few short weeks. Even with our younger freshman and junior varsity teams, we’re excited to see what kind of talent we have. As a football coach, when it’s a game you have a passion and love for, you’re always excited to start off the new season.”
For the first week two-a-days (Monday through Saturday, Aug. 6-11), the Panthers will be on the prowl early in the morning, with practices from 6:30-11 a.m. each day.
“We all know there are no cool days in August,” said Callaway. “We decided as a program to have our athletes practice in the morning hours during the first week of camp in order to keep everyone safe from this heat we’ve had recently, but also to allow these men to absorb more as athletes. We want to take care of our athletes, but we have to get ready for the season.”
For the second week of practice, the Panthers will begin practices in pads on Monday, Aug. 13 with practices from 2-7 p.m. throughout the week (Monday through Friday, Aug. 13-17). Additionally, there will be a practice from 6:30-11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 18.
The program’s Media Day event is slated for 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 16. Callaway will allow athletes entering ninth grade or new to the district to take part in the Freshman Camp event from 5-6:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 17, as well as the Meet the Panthers event, scheduled for 7 p.m.
For the week beginning Monday, Aug. 20, the Panther football program will hold practices from 2-7 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, Aug. 20-21, and will begin after school practices at 3:45 p.m. on the first day of school, Wednesday, Aug. 22.
The Panthers will take part in their lone scrimmage of the season Thursday, Aug. 23, against the Jacksonville Indians, at Panther Stadium.
“We are scrimmaging against a bigger program in Jacksonville because we’re going to be playing a lot bigger teams in pre-district play,” said Callaway. “Jacksonville is our scrimmage opponent basically because of the proximity of the two schools. We’re going to face a lot bigger teams than us in pre-district because if we want to be the best, we have to beat the best.”
Bullard’s 2018 campaign will begin with the season-opening contest against the Longview Pine Tree Pirates Friday, Aug. 31 in Longview, as well as home versus the Longview Spring Hill Panthers Friday, Sept. 7, and on the road against the Hallsville Bobcats Friday, Sept. 14.
To close out pre-district play, the Panthers’ schedule will include a home game against the Chapel Hill Bulldogs Friday, Sept. 21, as well as the annual Bullard High School Homecoming matchup against the visiting Athens Hornets Friday, Sept. 28, and a road game against the Gilmer Buckeyes Friday, Oct. 5.
Thanks to UIL’s redistrict of football programs in February, the Panther football team was placed in Class 4A’s Division 2 Region 2 District 7, along with the Brownsboro Bears, Canton Eagles, Rusk Eagles, and Wills Point Tigers.
The Panthers will begin the 2018 district schedule at home on Friday, Oct. 12, against the Wills Point Tigers, followed by a road trip to take on the Rusk Eagles Friday, Oct. 19.
After experiencing the annual bye week on Friday, Oct. 26, Bullard will attempt to scratch and claw its way through the final two district contests, including the Senior Night game at home Friday, Nov. 2 against the Brownsboro Bears and on Friday, Nov. 9 on the road against the Canton Eagles.
“We’re definitely going to be battle tested during pre-district play, which will hopefully allow us to come into district with some confidence,” said Callaway. “There’s several good programs and coaches in our new district, but I believe we have the talent it will take to step out of the locker room and onto the field for a fight. Our goal is to win district, as well as to be playing into the first week of the playoffs.”
Callaway said he expects Panther fans to continue to faithfully back the team at home games, as the fans’ cheers allow for a great home field advantage situation.
“One thing that stood out to me last year was the community’s support in coming out to home football games,” said Callaway. “It’s always exciting to see all of those people in the stands that enthusiastically support our teams and athletes, no matter the sport. We’re asking everyone to come out to the home football games and cheer for us because our athletes definitely feed off of that support – it’s a big shot in the arm for our athletes.”