Friday, August 07, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Numbers up, Sylvan Hills ‘booming’

Leader sportswriter

Despite graduating 23 seniors from last year’s 8-3 team, the Sylvan Hills football team began fall practices this week with higher numbers than in years past.

Sylvan Hills coach Jim Withrow said he’s got 72 players currently on his roster, and about 65 of those players went through the first week of fall practice.

Withrow said he’s had a small portion of players miss practices this week because of work, church camp or the simple fact that they took to the field at 6:30 a.m. throughout the week. But, by the time it’s all said and done, Withrow said he expects his roster to stay in the 70s.

“I think we’re going to be in the 70s,” said Withrow, “and in the future, I think that’s the way we’re going to go. We’re booming right now. We’re doing a lot with the kids. I like our coaches. I like what we’re doing.

“We’ve got administrators that are very much pro-athletics. We’ve got the new turf field. So we’re doing a lot of things to try and take our program to the next level.”

The Bears are coming off another busy summer of 7-on-7 meets and team camps that include the numerous individual workouts Withrow and his staff require the players to take part in throughout the summer.

With the first week of fall practices being limited to non-contact, practices have been in many ways an extension of the team’s summer activities.

“Right now they’ve kind of restricted things as far as how we can practice,” Withrow said. “It’s what we’ve been doing all summer, anyway. We’ve been out there all summer. We’ve had three workouts a week all summer.

“We’ve already been lifting and we’ve already been running plays. It’s not like we haven’t been doing stuff, so this is really kind of an extension of what we’ve been doing. It’s probably a little bit faster pace and is a little bit longer, but it’s gone well.

“We knew after the team camps we had to clean some stuff up and get better, so we’re doing that and trying to fit some guys in some spots where they can help us out.”

Even though the Bears have 72 players, the 23 seniors that graduated from last year’s team left with a lot of experience. That’s left Withrow and his staff working to fill some of the spots left by last year’s seniors, and it’s been at almost every position.

“It’s kind of hard to pinpoint one (area), because we only have three returning starters on offense and one of them is Jordan (Washington),” Withrow said. “Jordan was just a receiver last year and now he’s the quarterback.

“We return four on defense. The defensive line is all new. The secondary is three of the four. Our inside linebackers, both of those are new. Offensively, we have two linemen and Jordan and then everybody else is new.

“They’re young, but they’re athletic. So we’re going to get better and we’re going to get better every week. Our deal is we’re trying to speed up the process. I’ve been impressed with our effort. Our effort’s been good. Our attitudes have been good on both sides of the ball.

“I think we’re on schedule. The one thing I’d like to get is better execution and to be playing at a good tempo and a good pace. That’s the one thing we haven’t been able to do, especially at team camps. Now we’re getting to do that. We just have to adjust to the pace that we want to be at.”