Tuesday, August 14, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Bison find the players with tough preseason

Leader sportswriter

As the third week of preseason practice began Monday, Carlisle is doing all it can to work out the kinks before the Bison’s season opener at McCrory Aug. 31.

As many teams around the state experience at this time of year, Carlisle has had a few guys turn in their gear early due to the work that comes in preseason practice. The Bison started the first week of practice with 38 on the roster, and although a few have decided not to continue into the 2012 season, head coach Scott Waymire doesn’t see it as an issue.

“This is the third week of practice and I’ve been real pleased,” Waymire said. “The kids have been competing. The weather’s been good to us. We’ve been healthy, knock on wood. We’ve lost some kids, but that’s usually what happens when the summer comes, and you ask them to get out here for two or three hours.

“You kind of see the ones who truly want to play, and the guys we got right now are the ones who truly want to play.”

Carlisle had one of its best seasons last year with a 13-1 finish and a trip to the class 2A state championship game. As far as the team’s progression at this point, Waymire says things are still a work in progress.

“We’re playing a lot of young guys up front that didn’t play a lot last year,” Waymire said. “We have one returning offensive lineman, so every day is a challenge. Every day is a challenge for us to get better.

“If we want to compete and meet our goals then that’s the nature of the beast. We’re going to be a lot better come November than we are August 31. We’re going to be as good as we can be August 31 as well.”

Carlisle split its skill players and linemen up for the majority of Monday’s practice. The offensive linemen worked through various plays on the practice field for the first portion of practice, while the skill players were doing work in the weight room.

The groups later switched and the skill players ran through their assignments in the offensive playbook, while the linemen hit both the weight room and the track. In passing drills, starting quarterback Chris Hart, a senior, and junior backup Austin Reed worked with receivers in the passing game. Both had good chemistry with the receivers and looked comfortable with their deliveries.

The Bison focused on special teams and conditioning in the second part of practice. A year ago, Carlisle had all-state running back Bo Weddle and all-conference linebacker/running back Deron Ricks returning kicks. That formula worked well for the Bison last season, and Carlisle intends to use that advantage this season as well.

Ricks returned the season-opening kickoff against Riverview 96 yards for a touchdown last year. Ricks’ size and athleticism combined with Weddle’s speed and ability to break tackles, it could give Carlisle a distinct advantage on the kickoff return.

Carlisle will hold its Black-Gold preseason game at 6 p.m. Friday at Fed C. Hardke Memorial Field.