High School Football

Fort Worth Benbrook holds first varsity football practice

Benbrook Bobcat football

UIL football practice started Aug. 1 for Benbrook as the Bobcats begin their first varsity season.
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UIL football practice started Aug. 1 for Benbrook as the Bobcats begin their first varsity season.

With brand-new helmets and brand-new turf, the Benbrook Bobcats were ready for their varsity debut Monday morning.

Many UIL football teams used the first day of August to welcome the 2016 season, including Fort Worth Independent School District squads at Western Hills, Arlington Heights and Carter-Riverside.

Kids are excited, coaches excited. Just can’t wait to get the season going. Glad today’s here.

Benbrook head coach Cody Slater

But the day meant just a little more at Fort Worth Benbrook.

“Thank you, Fort Worth ISD, for supplying us with this brand-new field turf,” Benbrook coach Cody Slater said. “Kids are excited, coaches excited. Just can’t wait to get the season going. Glad today’s here.”

The day started at 8 a.m. for the Bobcats as players gathered around Slater and other coaches before stretching with their position groups.

Overall, 64 players came to practice, which consisted of drills, and offensive and defensive plays in a week that should hit 100 degrees every day. The team finished in the weight room.

We did pretty well. We have good chemistry and click really well on the field.

Benbrook quarterback Jack McMillan

Varsity players sported the program’s new white helmets while the younger players wore last season’s green headgear. Some players with green helmets worked in some reps with the varsity team.

“We did pretty well. We have good chemistry and click really well on the field,” said junior quarterback Jack McMillan, who threw for 1,592 yards and 19 touchdowns last season on the junior varsity.

“It felt good to be back on the field,” junior defensive tackle Matthew Perry added.

Benbrook consists of three grades, with no senior class, after Fort Worth ISD voters approved a ballot measure to transition the middle school into a high school in 2013, and a freshman class was added in the fall of 2014.

“It’s one of those days you always embrace,” said Slater, who’s in his third year with the program.

In addition to Fort Worth ISD schools, 5A teams Everman and White Settlement Brewer also started on Monday.

As temperatures climbed throughout morning, and water stations had to be refilled two and three times. Benbrook players persevered through opening day.

“At first, our energy level was high and it kind of dipped a little bit, but that’s to be expected on the first day and that’s what we’re for — as coaches, to make sure we maintain that energy level,” Slater said.

“It was definitely hot out there. Our agility at first was fast and then we had to push through,” sophomore guard John Henson said. “It’s going to be physically demanding, you just have to try harder than you did last year.”

It’s easy for kids to come out here and put their head down when they don’t catch the ball or make the right play, so as a head coach I tell them in life there will be failures.

Cody Slater

But through all the struggles that go into a first practice, Slater made sure he ended it on a positive note.

“It’s easy for kids to come out here and put their head down when they don’t catch the ball or make the right play, so as a head coach I tell them in life there will be failures,” Slater said. “It’s how you bounce back from those failures.”

The Bobcats will spend the next three days doing conditioning work, then it’s full pads and contact drills Friday morning.

Benbrook’s first varsity game is Aug. 26 against Ponder at Clark Stadium. The Bobcats will compete in District 4-4A Division II for the next two seasons.

“We can’t worry about wins and losses, those will come,” Slater said. “We have to embrace the process, and the process will get us to those wins and that’s what we’re looking for.”

Workouts begin Monday for teams that did not hold spring football practice. Ride with us this season as DFW Varsity brings you the action. What's your dream?

Fort Worth's Young Men's Leadership Academy joins FW Benbrook and Haslet Eaton as new UIL varsity football programs for the 2016 season.

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