CADILLAC — It’s a new experience for Charlie Howell.
Even after serving as a quarterback for several years, Cadillac’s new junior didn’t feel that way.
His arm hurt him this week.
That’s a normal experience for a lot of quarterbacks, but when you’re on a run-dominated program, it doesn’t happen often.
Howell and his teammates began to seriously learn new head coach Shawn Jackson’s offensive system this week with three days of practice at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Practices will continue for the next two weeks until the MHSAA-mandated blackout period for all fall sports on August 1. Training begins Monday, August 8.
That gives Howell and the other quarterbacks plenty of time to get used to the ice packs.
“We met after school got out and reviewed the games before off week (July 3-10),” Howell said. “Obviously we go from just running the ball to throwing the ball a lot more.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had pain in my arm during football season, but it’s only been two days and I froze my arm overnight. It is certainly a big difference.
Cadillac led a race-dominant flexbone triple-option offensive under former head coach Cody Mallory and had great success with it in recent years, winning three consecutive Division 4 titles and finishing second in the state in 2020.
Mallory is now the head coach of Spring Lake after taking that role in the spring and comes to Jackson with more than 20 years of coaching experience in southern states like Missouri, Georgia and Arkansas.
Jackson is all about quick, no-huddle shotgun broadcast offenses.
And it is also intense.
“The biggest difference I see is the level of intensity,” Jackson said. “We move pretty quickly. This is the thing we need to correct now.
“We have to increase the level of intensity. They’re not used to someone like me there.
Jackson is constantly on the move, whether in the weight room or on the field working with the players. The Southern sled and visor are just two of the hints that things are going to be different.
“It’s been really fun and I’m excited,” Jackson said. “Everything has been great and everyone has been great so far.
“We just need to increase the level of intensity and the pace. We don’t sit there and talk a lot. Children all want to learn. I get text messages from them all the time explaining why we are doing this or that.
Howell said it was a little overwhelming at times, but he learned so much about the game from Jackson.
“Right now we are setting up our basic formations,” he said. “We used to have what you would call everyone in the box and now we’re all scattered. It’s five linemen, four wide and then only two running backs or sometimes we’re empty (in the backfield). It’s a big difference.
The style of play suits him too.
“I think everyone is extremely excited not to run the ball all the time,” Howell laughed. “I mean, running the ball is also fun, but throwing the ball is a huge difference.
“Just seeing that it’s going to be something new is exciting.”
Jackson said he was evaluating everyone and everything as practices unfolded to get an idea of how things would pan out this fall.
“It’s a facility in many ways, but it’s more of a review and evaluation process,” he said. “Nobody has a position and there are no starters yet. We’ll see how the pieces fit together.
“By the last training in July, everything will be in place, then everything will be fine-tuned when you come back in August. Football is football no matter what you do. You have to block, you have to run, throw, catch and tackle.
Jackson makes offensive concepts and calls as easy as possible for players.
“The terminology we use takes care of itself,” he said. “Everything has themes and we use numbers and words. The entire game call is one word.
“We want kids to be able to adapt and think on their feet. That’s what I have to instill in myself right now.
Cadillac opens the 2022 season on Friday August 26 at Midland before three consecutive home games with Escanaba on September 1, Mount Pleasant on September 9 and Alpena on September 16.