Crash Course: SSHS coaches putting emphasis on physical play

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

Aug. 14, 2007 - Football isn't just a contact sport, it's a collision sport. The Sulphur Springs Wildcats are getting a crash course in that concept this week.

Head coach Greg Owens and his staff have turned up the dial on the physical nature of the two-a-day practices. For the second straight day, the Cats engaged in the Wildcat Maker tackling drill to kick off the early morning practice.

Owens said the purpose isn't just to energize practice, but to let the players know that the coaches expect that type of intensity the entire day.

"We're not trying to kill them with it, but we've just got to understand that we've got to play at another level," Owens explained. "I think it helps to get mano-y-mano a little bit, go one-on-one and see who's going to show us something.

"I think it builds confidence in them, too, realizing this is the level where I have to go. We saw some good things - some kids are turning the corner a little bit."

The practices have also incorporated more full contact scrimmage sessions in preparation for Saturday morning's intrasquad scrimmage against Greenville.

"We've got to be physical, and some of these kids have to grow up a little bit," Owens said. "Some young kids have to realize this is a different level than freshmen or JV ball."

The head coach hammered home the mantra of being tougher and more intense during practice before the squad was dismissed at 9:45 a.m. today for an hour-long break.

"When it gets tough out here, it's hot and it's physical, and you've got to do it for four or five days in a row. It's easy to tap out a little bit, and we're trying to get them to fight through it physically and mentally," Owens explained.

They are doing it a little short-handed right now on the offensive line. With two linemen injured, the Wildcats are down to their third center this week. Sophomore Colby Suggs, a converted quarterback who had been working at starting left guard, slid over to center today to replace the injured Mason Y'Barbo and Jake Russell.

The Wildcats offensive line will be very young this season, with up to four sophomores and juniors in the starting lineup. The more repetitions they get together, the better of they will be. That has been a problem, though, since they put on pads Friday.

"We're so young on the offensive line right now, and we're having to piecemeal things together," Owens said. "We're having to shuffle a few guys around a little bit, and guys we're trying to train are just young. They haven't done it at this high of a level, and they're blocking a pretty good defensive line.

"It's a different level they're not accustomed to seeing. The hard thing about that is trying to get consistency and cohesiveness. We don't want to shuffle them around a bunch, but we're having to do it. It's not the best scenario, but you do what you've got to do."

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