The Ada High football team will kick off its 2019 spring schedule at 3:15 p.m. today at East Central University’s Norris Field.

Ada head coach Chris Berus expects 61 players to report for duty. One of the main objectives for Berus and his coaches is to get all 61 Cougars to know each other better. A lot better.

“We want to get reacquainted with each other. We’ve had about a third of our kids in offseason, and another third have been involved in basketball, wrestling, track and baseball. We’ve got another crew that’s coming up that were freshmen last year and will be sophomores,” Berus said.

“You want to start to build that chemistry as a team. We want to start building relationships,” he continued. “You might think our seniors know each other really well, but they don’t. Ultimately, it’s going to take everyone on the roster.”

In that vein, Berus hopes to see leaders emerge during spring drills. Seniors, he’s looking at you.

“We will be defining roles in regards to leadership and investing in and empowering our seniors and let them understand the importance of servant leadership,” he said. “In other words, if you help those underclassmen reach their goals, they’ll help you reach your goals. It’s their last opportunity to don the Block A.”

It’s a priority for every Cougar to be on the same page.

“We’re in the process of that ground floor teaching of this is who we are and this is who we need to be,” Berus said. “For the upcoming season, our goals are high as to what we hope to achieve as a team. And the great part about football is that it takes everyone in that locker room to get where we want to go.”

The Cougars will work out from 3:15-5:15 p.m. today, Thursday and Friday. On Saturday, practice will run from 10 a.m. to noon.

On Monday through Thursday of next week, Ada will also meet from 10 a.m. to noon. The final day of spring practice is from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. next Friday.

Berus said it’s back to the basics this week.

“The first week of spring ball is going to be all fundamental work. It’s just going to be skill work and development within their position,” he said.

“The second week, we’ll begin the install portion of our camp — our base offense and our base defense, getting guys lined up in positions, doing some drill work ... that is where the focus is right now,” Berus explained.

Details of Xs and Os will come in the fall.

“The schemes, the touchdown and first down creating plays, and the third down and fourth down stops — we’ll get to all that,” Berus said. “It’s really getting to know ourselves and understandings who were are, where we want to go and bridging that gap to get there.”

The practices are open to the public.

Quarterback guys

Senior Manny LaValley, junior Zac Carroll and sophomore John David Muse will all three take some snaps this spring as the search to replace the graduating Tanner Gilliam as the new Ada quarterback begins.

Carroll has a head start after starting four games for the Cougars in 2018. He threw for 566 yards and four scores.

Berus said he’s seen LaValley and Muse make some nice passes, too.

Coaching news

Brad Odom will be making his Ada football coaching debut this spring and will be working with the offensive line.

Berus said a tight end will be utilized in the offense more in 2019, and he has assistant coach Cody Nall working with those players this spring. Nall played tight end and wide receiver at Ardmore High School and was later a tight end at East Central University.

“What a better man to place in that position than a guy who did it at the collegiate level?” said Berus.

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.