Sounds of spring: popping of pads
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

April 24, 2004 -- The Sulphur Springs Wildcats will once again be taking advantage of a three-for-one deal.

The Wildcat football team will put on full pads starting Monday afternoon for their annual 18 days of spring practice. In return, the Wildcats will miss six practice days in the fall. Those are the rules set down by the UIL.

SSHS head coach Brad Turner said spring practice not only gives the coaches more time to run practices, it serves an even more useful purpose -- evaluation.

"The biggest positive of spring training is you get to evaluate kids without the pressure of preparing for an opponent. We're out there solely to evaluate talent, to find out who can play especially with the younger kids," Turner said.

"We can switch positions, we can change sides of the ball, we can do some things that we probably would not do if we were looking at playing Jacksonville on Friday. We probably wouldn't try some of this stuff because if it doesn't work, then you've lost."

Coaches will be looking to fill a lot of vacancies after the Wildcats started 15 seniors last season. Turner said the freshman and sophomores, who will be sophomores and juniors next year, have the opportunity to make an impression in their bid for playing time in the fall.

"Some of those young kids are going to have a chance to play. The best ones are going to be able to earn themselves a spot," he said. "Looking at our personnel, there are as many as three, four or five sophomores who have a chance to contribute on varsity."

The Wildcats will start their spring practices at 4 p.m. Monday, and work out for an hour four days a week, taking Fridays off or using it as a make-up day in case of rain earlier in the week. On Wednesday, May 19, the coaches will draft for the spring game, which will be held on Saturday, May 22. That will conclude the practices as school ends the next week.

Turner said he waited as long as possible in the spring to start practices to get as many players as coaches involved as possible.

The practices will go along the same lines as fall workouts, though there won't be an conditioning after school -- that will be done in the athletic period -- and the practices will be "more laid back," according to the head coach.

"After you get past the ninth or 10th workout, you can hit a lull because there's no game to get ready for," Turner said. "During the season, you practice for a few days and then you have a game.

"In the spring, we try to make it funner and a little more laid back."

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