Wildcats postpone spring football drills
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

April 22, 2006 - Greg Owens had hoped to get his first glimpse of the Sulphur Springs Wildcats in full pads next week, but he will have to wait until August.

Owens, head football coach hired in January, decided this week to call off full contact spring drills because he doesn't have enough of next year's staff in place to make it worthwhile.

Rather than getting in spring drills, the Wildcats will report for practice a week earlier in August.

Owens has hired three coaches - defensive coordinator Steve Hale, offensive coordinator Jeff Riordan and linebacker coach Cornelius Cooper - and has four others from the existing staff who appear to be staying - Rahn Smith, Jarrod Hammack, Triston Abron and Josh Strickland. But, the SSISD web site has openings for six more coaches to fill out the freshmen, JV and varsity staffs.

"Right now, we're just not equipped, staff-wise," he explained. "There are some of the guys here who are leaving - they've been kind and gracious and offered to help us coach these kids up and do what's best for the kids, but right now the staff that's going to be here next year is not all in.

"I just feel like this year, it's just not to our advantage. As much as I want to, as much as the kids want to, and as hard as we've been trying to push to get there to do it, it's just not there. I want to see what the kids can do, and they're anxious and chomping at the bit to go, but it's just not going to be possible."

According to UIL rules, schools in Class 4A and 5A can hold 18 days of spring drills or they can have two full weeks of pads in August. The Wildcats will report on Aug. 7 and get into full pads four days later.

The earlier start date in August will also allow the Wildcats an additional scrimmage plus the one already scheduled. They are scrimmaging Terrell on Aug. 25, and Owens is now looking for another team to play on Aug. 18.

"We'll bring them in one week earlier and get a few more hot days in August," Owens said.

While they can't practice after school, the Wildcats continue to get acquainted with the new system during the athletic period.

"We're continuing to lift weights about three days a week and then work on skills and teaching the scheme, getting them used to our offensive and defensive schemes," he explained. "We'll just have to evaluate kids based on their athletic skills since we're not hitting right now. We're learning the kids a little bit and trying to get a feel for what they can or can't do."

The search for coaches to fill his staff is narrowing. He has a large stack of resumes, but said the most difficult part is fitting the right candidate with the teaching fields that are available.

"What's hard right now is matching up teaching fields with the criteria set down by the state and federal government with No Kid Left Behind," Owens explained. "We've got to meet those standards, so it narrows the field down.

"Everybody here has been great  - the administration has been super about working with us. It's just a matter of finding that applicants out there, the ones you want to hire that meet those teaching fields and are great people, too."

Among the coaches he is searching for is a head volleyball coach. John McCullough was the head coach last year, though he had already taken over duties as assistant principal. Volleyball practice begins Aug. 7 as well.

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