Baldwin football program opens practices to begin 8-player era

New Baldwin football coach Bob Watkins talks with his team after a practice on Monday. (Pioneer photo/John Raffel)

BALDWIN — Day one for Baldwin football opened on Monday with new coach Bob Watkins set to get his team ready for its opener in just about two weeks.

School also started and the Panthers waited until afternoon to get in their practice time.

The first game is Aug. 25 at home with Grand Traverse Academy.

It’s the first season for 8-player football at Baldwin and Watkins is anticipating a junior varsity and varsity team. There were 20 total players at Monday’s first practice.

“We explained that it’s our primary (goal) to have both teams,” Watkins said. “But if we don’t have enough numbers, then varsity takes precedence. Varsity is the only one that can make the playoffs.”

Watkins covered several areas the first day of practice. “We went over formations like everyone else and are working on conditioning,” Watkins said. “We found out today that we’re not in real good of shape. We have some big (players) up front. We went over rules, regulations guidelines. We explained to them what our expectations are.”

The Panthers have four seniors.

“I don’t know if everybody is out (on Monday),” he said. “We can still accept them.”

Unlike most schools, which are still on summer break, Baldwin resumed classes on Monday.

“We can’t come here to practice early enough,” Watkins said. “But they do have to be here. They can’t make the excuse they are out of town.”

Baldwin will have a scrimmage on Aug. 17 in Lawrence. Battle Creek St. Phillip will also be there.

Watkins is assisted by Scott Pedigo (defensive coordinator), Lonie Watkins (line), Mike Anderson (strength and conditioning), Joe Williams (volunteer), Shawn Williams (utility) and Rusty Fullerton (junior high).

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Posted by John Raffel

John is a sports reporter with the Pioneer as well as the Herald Review and The Lake County Star. He also coordinates the weekly Pioneer sports outdoors page. He can be reached at (231) 592-8356 or by email at jraffel@pioneergroup.com.

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