Friday, August 08, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Bears filling up defensive holes

Leader sports editor

Steady as she goes is the story after a week of football practices for Sylvan Hills. The Bears have 65 players out and practices have been divided between varsity and junior varsity.

“We do one long practice with everybody and then break them up,” said Sylvan Hills coach Jim Withrow. “One group will lift while another is on the field and then we switch. We’re trying to get a good look at some of these younger guys and see who can help us.”

Sylvan Hills entered the preseason practice sessions expecting to have a potent offense, but with some question marks on defense. Slowly, the head Bear believes he’s finding players to step into roles.

“We’re looking at our personnel offensively and just seeing what all we can do,” Withrow said. “Defensively too we’re trying to put all the pieces together. I really think we’ve got them. We just have to figure out where they go.”

Sylvan Hills returns nine players on offense, so installing the scheme hasn’t required nearly as much time. That’s been obvious according to Withrow.

“We’re definitely farther along at this point than we have been,” Withrow said. “We’re an older group though, so we ought to be.”

The split practices have helped coaches begin to find some depth. Withrow said some of the younger linemen have been impressive enough to begin given consideration for varsity minutes.

That fact alone could answer the question of interior depth Sylvan Hills had during the summer.

“I’ve been pretty pleased with some of these young guys,” Withrow said. “We’ve figured all along that a lot of our linemen would have to play both ways, and they probably will still have to. But if these younger ones keep developing, it probably won’t have to be as much. Ideally you want eight guys that can play anywhere, and I think we’ve got that.”

Withrow also singled one player out for special praise for his early performances.

“I think Deangelo Bell has been the one that has impressed the coaches most,” Withrow said.

“He missed his whole sophomore year with a bacterial infection or something. He came back his junior year but he came back late and was a little behind. Now he’s really looking good. We’re working him at corner because he’s doing the best at it,” he said.

“I’d really like to find another corner and move him to safety because he’s so strong. He also played offense for us some last year and could do that if we needed him to. He’s just gotten so much better though because he’s worked so hard.”