Academy, Kingman ready to begin spring drills

SHAWN BYRNE/Miner<BR>
The Kingman Academy Tigers, pictured, and the Kingman Bulldogs begin spring football practice Monday. Both teams will be on the field for three weeks.

SHAWN BYRNE/Miner<BR> The Kingman Academy Tigers, pictured, and the Kingman Bulldogs begin spring football practice Monday. Both teams will be on the field for three weeks.

KINGMAN - The eyes begin to focus on the prize as Kingman football coach Greg Tonjes and Kingman Academy coach Dan Stroup lead their charges onto the practice fields for the annual spring football tradition.

Lee Williams starts up its spring practice session May 4.

The football landscape has changed for the three Kingman area high schools. The Bulldogs, Tigers and Volunteers will be competing for the Division IV, Section III championship, which means each will play the others this season.

Kingman enters its spring practices coming off an 0-11 season, but the Bulldogs played a D-II schedule and Tonjes took over in July. He now has had a year to work inside the program and has Kingman gearing up to get some notches in the win column.

"We're hoping to have the numbers to fill a freshmen team this year," Tonjes said. "I've done a lot of work to get the kids."

Tonjes wants to get his offense, defense and special teams installed over the next three weeks, and the Bulldog spring session is expected to culminate with a Spring Football Showcase at 7 p.m. May 15. Tonjes said he'd have half of the weight room at the stadium for a strongman competition and a practice for the public to view.

"We'll have the grills fired up, and concessions will be open," the coach said.

The Academy wants to build on its 6-5 D-V season in which the Tigers reached the state playoffs. They're moving up a division, but Stroup feels they're ahead of the game for his second year leading the Academy.

"We've been with the players for a year now, and they know our expectations," Stroup said. "We have a good returning group that should be stronger than the group we're losing."

That's because Stroup orchestrated upgrades to the school's weight room to the tune of $5,000.

"We're excited about that and being able to lift at our facility," the coach said. "We'll be lifting all summer."

Academy has 23 returners, and Stroup said he has 18 new players already signed up and not just freshmen.

The Tigers begin work at 4:30 p.m. Monday at Southside Park.