Friday, May 18, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Falcons’ coach spots progress

Leader sports editor

The North Pulaski football team has about what most class 5A schools would expect to have out for spring practice, but about double what the Falcons themselves are used to. The Falcons have averaged between 55 and 60 players for spring drills that ended Friday. The low count was 52 and the high was 63. The team is heavy with sophomores, but that’s something second-year coach Teodis Ingram is glad to see.

“We really hit the middle school and the community hard trying to get kids interested in our whole athletic program at North Pulaski,” Ingram said. “There’s never been any doubt that this was a building process. I’m ecstatic to have so many sophomores.”

Another rarity at North Pulaski is that six players from the basketball team have taken part in football offseason and spring practice.

“We’ve got some kids in every class from the basketball that haven’t played since ninth- grade,” Ingram said. “Coach (Roy) Jackson has done a great job of working with us. We’re trying to build our whole program here at North Pulaski and all the coaches have been working really well together.”

Ingram installed a regimented and demanding off-season conditioning program. He felt the team didn’t match up well in physical strength with many opponents last season, especially towards the end of games. The off-season regiment is meant to change that, and students have taken to the program.

“The kids have responded really well,” Ingram said. “They’ve adjusted well to what we’re trying to do, even though maybe they weren’t used to putting this much work in.”

Ingram’s off-season participants have lifted three days a week, and done speed and quickness training on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Now with a couple of weeks of live practice, Ingram believes he sees marked improvement, especially from many linemen.

“There’s no doubt we’re stronger,” Ingram said. “You can just look at how much the weights on our lifting have gone up. But the thing I like is that are footwork drills seems to be helping our linemen a lot. They’re much quicker pulling and getting out front on our option.”
Ingram also hopes sticking to the regiment will increase his team’s mental toughness.

“I feel like we are stronger mentally,” Ingram said. “I really think that’s where we lost some ball games last year. Being in better shape helps that a lot.”
of course the program hasn’t been all work and no fun. Ingram has tried to keep workouts and practices fast paced, and tries to engage the new players as much as possible.

“This is game and we want kids to enjoy it,” Ingram said. “We want to make things fast paced, keep them from getting bored. We certainly want to try to engage the sophomores. Depth helps any team. If our young kids, our kids coming from basketball, all these new guys stick with it, we may only have to have one or two play both ways.”

Ingram plans to have his team play a game-situation, full-team scrimmage on Tuesday. The first team offense will face the first team defense and so on down the depth chart. Approximate start time for the scrimmage will be 5 p.m. and the public is welcome to attend.