BRISTOL, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Our next stop in our tour of area football practice fields takes us to Bristol, and the practice field of the Liberty Bulldogs.
Liberty works out in just helmets Thursday in advance of scrimmage at Cottondale Friday
Head coach Derek Causseaux is working with about 36 players for now, hoping the roster will grow once school starts.
About half the Bulldogs' starters return—five on offense and six on defense from an injury-riddled 2-8 season.
The Bulldogs started 2-2 in 2018 but dropped their last six, including the final three games by a combined score of 188-22.
This season, Causseaux and the Bulldogs are out to restore pride.
"This team is going to come out and prove not only to the Liberty County community but the teams that we play that we're not a pushover anymore," Causseaux said. "They have bought in 100 percent to the weight room, to conditioning, and to whatever it takes to bring their program back to whatever it takes to bring Liberty County back."
The Bulldogs lost ten seniors from last year's team, but the core remains and even those filling the gaps have played alongside each other their entire high school careers. The continuity and focus within the program could pay dividends.
"We got to spend a whole spring and a whole summer together focusing on what our whole offense was going to be," Causseaux continued. "The guys understand it. That's the biggest thing. I have a pretty smart team this year."
While that's true about their G.P.A.'s, it's also true about their smarts on the field.
"You can't always say that about football players, Causseaux admitted, "but these guys are really smart and most of these guys have been with me now going into my third year. So they know me, I understand them, and we're able to communicate without having to get into confrontations or anything. They understand where I'm coming from."
A mixture of experience, intelligence, and hard knocks honed over that time frame leaves Causseaux in a positive frame of mind heading into the final two weeks of the preseason.
"They have a football IQ. They understand the X's and O's that a coach would want them to. I'm able to explain a play, draw it up on a board, and a lot of them have it right after they see it. They might not have it down on the field, but they know the concept behind it. I feel when a kid understands what you want from a concept, they're able to execute."
The Bulldogs participate in an eight team official's scrimmage at Cottondale in the second week of camp, then host Franklin on the 16th in their preseason classic. They'll travel to Port St. Joe for the regular season opener on the 23rd.
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