I took a little drive down East Lee Street heading toward Dudley High School last evening and before I could even get to Dudley, I saw football players of all sizes practicing all up and down East Lee.
There was a rough estimate of 150 kids on the fields at Bennett College and they were going through all kinds of drills. It almost looked like a football mini-camp. This must have been the Mites or maybe even the new Pop Warner League that has come to town. That was the most kids I have ever seen on those fields at Bennett College.
On down the street there was at least another 150 kids, and these must have been the Pee Wees and they were working at the baseball complex there on the right hand side as you head out East Lee Street. I have seen those kids out there before in late summer, but it appeared there were more little guys out there than usual. It was one heck of a crowd and it almost gave the impression that maybe this was the first day of practice. They had the helmets and pads and they were good to go.
At the end of East Lee Street as you turn on to Lincoln Street you enter the Dudley Panther campus. By the time I came rolling in there, they were just finishing up the final wind sprints and I never got out of the car. They were busy doing that end of practice talking thing and I’m not one to disturb a coach when he is talking post-practice strategy and business with his troops.
Counting Varsity and JV, there must have been about 100 kids at Dudley and when you add in the 300 that were working out back up the street, that gives you 300-400 kids practicing football on East Lee Street.
This could go a long way in explaining why they have so much talent down on that side of town. They are out there working and they get started early. The most intriguing part of the whole equation to me, was that large group of kids working out and practicing up at Bennett College. That was something that I had never seen before, and believe me I have quite a bit, all around the town.