Summer workouts paying dividends for Wildcats

By BOBBY "BUTCH" BURNEY | News-Telegram Sports Editor

Aug. 7, 2007 - The Edge seems to be paying off.

Sulphur Springs summer workout program, called The Edge, brought the Wildcats to two-a-day football practices in very good shape.

The Wildcats who attended the voluntary, seven-week program are seeing the dividends it is paying right now. It is the most evident in the conditioning sprints the Wildcats are running.

On Monday, all of the JV and varsity players lined up for 16 half-gassers. A half-gasser is a sprint across the football field and back, roughly 100 yards. Skill position players had 20 seconds to run each half-gasser, while linemen had 25 seconds. There was a one-minute rest between each sprint.

If the players did not each one under the allotted time, they had to run again today.

After yesterday's sprints, there were 15 players who did not complete the half-gassers under time, and that included about a half-dozen who did not run on Monday because they had not completed their physical examinations.

Of the 15 who ran on Tuesday morning, only three did not make all 16 sprints under time. That is indicative of how well The Edge prepared the players physically for two-a-days.

"The advantages to working out in the summer is it will hopefully help prevent injuries and it's going to let us not worry about getting kids in shape," SSHS head coach Greg Owens said before practice ever started. "When they're in shape, hopefully, our practices are shorter. They don't retain much when they're tired, either. When you're gasping for air, you're not hearing what's being said.

"The kids that were committed to us and were here, they're in pretty good shape right now."

At the end of The Edge, the Wildcats underwent strength and speed tests. Many of the players got faster and stronger over the summer, when they were working out for two hours a day, four days a week.

When they timed in the 40-yard dash, two players ran under 4.5 seconds. Sophomore receiver/defensive back Shane McQueen had the fastest time with a 4.47, while senior All-District wide receiver Daqualin "Boo" Evans clocked a 4.49.

In the vertical leap, senior All-District linebacker Brittan Diamond led the squad with a 31-inch jump.

"We feel good about where we're at athletically," Owens said. "Some kids have put on some weight, and some kids have lost some weight. I feel good about where we're at, athletically. We've had some tremendous strength gains as well."

In the strength tests, the Wildcats had three players bench press 300 or more pounds, four squat 400 or more, and three clean 275 or better.

In the bench press, senior linebacker Josh Dunn, who led the team in tackles in 2006, had the best lift with a maximum of 320. Defensive tackle Jamal Freeman benched 305 and All-District senior defensive end Tyler Francis lifted 300.

In the squat, junior running back Eddie Arciga led the team with a 455 maximum. Sophomore defensive lineman Colby Suggs and sophomore center Mason Y'Barbo each squatted 420, while sophomore lineman J.B. Beachum lifted 415 and junior lineman Jake Russell squatted 395.

Senior All-District defensive tackle Rodney Evans had the best clean lift with a 305 maximum. Francis lifted 280 and Suggs 275.

In the incline press, Freeman had a team-best 285 maximum.

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