Friday, August 13, 2010

SPORTS>>Lions take their time to prepare for season

Leader sportswriter

Searcy coach Tim Harper is anxious for the season to start, but by no means in a hurry.

The Lions have taken slow but steady strides in the first two weeks of August football practice. Most of the offensive and defensive schemes have been installed, and the methodical approach has the Lions game ready with plenty of time for fine-tuning.

“We probably have about 90 percent installed on both sides,” Harper said. “We’re working on a few stunt packages for our defense, but we’re pretty much ready to go. We have all of our special teams in. We feel like we could play today if we needed to, so we’re feeling good where that’s concerned.”

Harper was pleased with the improvements made by his offensive skill players, and said the defensive line was the only trouble spot during the week. The second-year coach would like to see more effort made towards conditioning by the defensive interior.

Otherwise, things are on schedule.

“Our practices have been going great,” Harper said. “There hasn’t been any problems, just what I feel like have been good August practices. To be honest with you, we’re about to the point where we’re going to get tired of hitting on each other soon.”

The Lions are hoping to make their second straight trip to the Class 6A playoffs after ending a five-year postseason drought in 2009. Searcy, 4-7, won more games last season than the previous four combined.

Harper credited much of last year’s improvement to his players’ work ethic during spring practice, summer 7-on-7 games and weightlifting, as well as the two-a-days practices.

He said the effort this August has been just as good, even with the much hotter temperatures compared to a year ago.

Heat precautions have been a major focus, although the Lions experienced their second heat-related illness when sophomore linebacker Bradley Root became sick following a practice early in the week.

It was not serious and Root recovered, but was held out for the rest of the week as a precaution. Senior linebacker Charlie Birmingham passed out from heat exhaustion during the first week of practice and was taken to a local hospital for intravenous fluids, but he returned to practice Monday and has had no further complications.

“The kids have been super,” Harper said. “They’ve been hydrating themselves better. I think after the one scare, everyone started taking it a little more serious. We did have one more heat illness, but practicing more in the evenings this week has helped us.”

With one more full week of practice remaining before intramural and scrimmage games, Harper wants to take the time to further critique his team.

“We’re trying to get things to the point of perfection rather than just installing things.” Harper said. “And we try to manage in a way to where no one gets injured.”