PRATTVILLE, Ala. (WSFA) - Caleb Ross is beginning his third year as the head coach at Prattville High School.
"The kids know what to expect, you’re not having to teach the expectation as much, you’re reinforcing it daily, but it’s a lot better year two,” said Ross.
In year two, all he did was lead the Lions to a 7-3 regular season mark and a berth in the Class 7A playoffs - their first playoff appearance since the 2014 season. They were defeated in the first round by McGill-Toolen, but Ross has the Lions on the right track.
All three of their regular season losses last season came to teams who made deep runs in last year’s playoffs: Central-Phenix City won the Class 7A title, Wetumpka made it to the Class 6A semifinals, and Auburn fell just short of the Class 7A semis.
It’s a new season, which means this team will have a new identity, something Ross says you really start to get a feel for early on.
“We get those ideas going into the spring, ‘Hey this is what our personnel can do,’ then you kind of, like even in the summertime, you kind of know what you can do as far as throwing the football. You do a lot of 7-on-7 - it’s those first two weeks of August that you really kind of learn this is what you can do in the run game, this is what we’re gonna be able to do as far as protection, or defensive schemes and fronts,” said Ross.
He said the differences sometimes make themselves more apparent once the pads come on, and now since Prattville’s opened practice this week, some of those differences should come along soon. For now, though, he likes what he’s seen out of his guys.
“We’ve had a really good week. I think every coach - you want perfection, I think every coach wants that day one, but I’ll tell you this, the energy’s been really good and that’s really what I want," said Ross. "I want our guys to come out, hey, learn from your mistakes, we’re gonna put a lot of stuff on film and try to get better every day.”
Ross’s unit has until Aug. 23 to find their new identity. That’s the day they open the 2019 season. They travel south to take on the Foley Lions to kick the new season off. Prattville shutout Foley 37-0 in last year’s season opener.