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— Everyone's speaking the same language and Gentry's football practices no longer resemble a "foreign country," says the Pioneers' third-year coach Brian Little.

Gentry, 6-14 the past two years, officially opened pre-season football Monday with 36 players, 15 of them seniors. And most of them have been with head coach Little since he arrived here to revitalize a struggling program that last made it to the state playoffs in 1998.

Little says his team is ready for some success.

"It's amazing to see the difference in their knowledge, having been in a system for three years," he says. "I mean, their understanding of what we do, their knowledge of our expectations as coaches and how wedo things, how we practice and talk our language.

"It's like we've been in a foreign country here for a couple of years and now we talk and communicate. That's much better. I think there is no doubt that's going to translate to some success for us this year."

Gentry (3-7, 2-5 1-4A in 2008) started pre-season drills last week with a training camp.

"We ironed out some things, teaching everybody where to line up and what drill's are called, how to set up so that when we started today things fell into place," he says.

Gentry practices 10-11:30 a.m. each day this week and 7-9 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday.

"When these kids get in here, they're going to work and when they're out there, they are working," he says. "We're getting done what we need to get done.

We have a lot more teaching that we're going over with the younger (seventh grade and junior high) groups, naturally."

Little says he's counting down until Thursday, when the team practices in full pads.

"We'll be ready to go after it and we'll go Saturday morning, perhaps just with high school depending on how the week unfolds," he says. "We're going to be ready when pad time comes because there are only so many things you can look at in shorts."

Until then, he says the team will "just drill, drill, drill."

"It can become monotonous, but it's very important that you do it," Little said.

Gentry hosts West Fork at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 25, in a AAA benefit scrimmage and opens the season Thursday, Sept. 3, at Colcord, Okla.

Sports, Pages 6 on 08/05/2009

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