Just over 70 Ada High football players reported to fall practices this week at the Craig McBroom Football Complex.

The team is gearing up for the first-ever Cougar Preview under new head coach Chris Berus. That scrimmage will begin at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at the high school practice field.

This year, the scrimmage will include all three Ada junior high teams — grades 7-9 — along with the varsity Cougars. The Couganns, cheerleaders and marching band will also be part of the festivities.

During the scrimmages, temporary tattoos for children will be available and hot dogs, drinks, snow cones and Cougar apparel will be available for purchase.

Fans can also sign up to be a part of the Ada Cougar Football Booster Club during the event, and the night will be capped by a fireworks display.

Admission is free, but Ada football officials are asking fans to donate laundry soap and other similar items to the team at the gate.

“We would like to have the whole community show up for the Cougars to get this season started off with a bang,” said Cheyenne Christian, vice president of the Ada Cougar Football Booster Club. “We are very excited about this year.”

Berus said the Cougar Preview will provide a game-night experience for his players and fans alike.

“It’s going to be neat to see all the grade levels out there competing,” Berus said before his team’s Thursday afternoon practice session. “What’s really neat for me is the experience it’s going to end up being for our high school team — getting the band out, Couganns, cheerleaders. It’s going to be a true preview of what game nights are going to be like. Everyone will get a little taste of what Friday nights are going to be all about.”

Berus said he’s been pleased with Ada’s first three practice sessions of the fall.

“Our turnout has been good. We’re getting a lot of reps for a lot of kids right now,” he said. “There’s a little learning curve with our schemes, as far as playing a little catch-up from what we didn’t do in the spring. But it’s like at the beginning of every fall.”

Berus said his team and coaching staff have been working hard.

“There’s a lot of eagerness. Our offensive staff and a lot of our kids have been coming in really early and doing a lot of film breakdown —  learning signals for formations and plays and blocking schemes. It’s been really good. There’s been a lot of learning,” he said. “It’s been a good three days.”

Berus said his team is having to learn a lot at a rapid pace.

“The culture — the expectations and the accountability — a lot of that will be learned day to day, just because everything we’re experiencing right now together is new. I’m new, so the day-to-day routine is new for the kids,” he explained. “Our practice schedule is different than maybe what they’re used to, and it’s even different than what we did in the spring and the summer.”

The Cougars will don football pads for the first time in tonight’s practice.

“I think we’re tired of just the helmets and shorts, like most people are. But those are the rules,” Berus said. “(Friday) will kind of be a tell-tale of where we’re at. Football is a physical game.”

Ada’s first preseason scrimmage of the year is next Thursday (Aug. 17) at Duncan. The ninth-grade Cougars will kick off that meeting at 4:30 p.m., followed by the junior varsity and varsity teams.

Berus hopes to have a better idea of Ada’s depth chart by then.

“In one week, we’ll get to hook up with another opponent, and that’s always fun for everybody,” he said. “I think we’ll get a beginning indicator when we go through our Duncan scrimmage as far as who’s going to be where. There could be some multiple fits with some kids on both sides of the ball.”

Ada’s final scrimmage is scheduled for Aug. 24 at Noble High School. The Cougars will also tangle with Shawnee at that event.

As for now, Berus just wants to see his players improve every day.

“Our kids are really eager to be good and to learn what we have to know to go compete.

“Our goal every day is to walk off the field better than when we walked on. And if we can stay true to that goal, I think we’ll build something pretty special,” he said.

Jeff Cali has been covering sports in the Ada area since the mid-90s. He graduated from Byng High School and earned a bachelor’s degree from East Central University.