Wildcat Maker: Tackling drill puts some spice into SSHS practice

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

Aug. 12, 2008 - As the Sulphur Springs Wildcats gathered around the middle of the practice field about 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, junior running back Devion Hill summed up what was about to happen. "Either you get made," Hill said, "or you get broke."

The varsity and JV players then jumped into the "Wildcat Maker" - also called the Hamburger Drill - to get a taste of the mano-y-mano alley where the purpose is to see who will emerge from the series of head-on collisions.

In the Wildcat Maker, a running back has one blocker and two defensive players he must try to get through in a 5-yard corridor. There is no place to hide.

The very first round had linebacker Tyler Higginbotham meeting running back Ryan Young. Their violent crash set the tone for the rest of the session.

"The blood flow got going, and we had some kids step up and make some big hits," said head coach Greg Owens. "That got the enthusiasm up.

"It was a physical Wildcat Maker."

Owens wanted to see the fire from his players after yesterday's opening practice was subpar. The Wildcats came out in yesterday's second practice with more focus, and then had an even crisper workout today.

"Second session yesterday was really good," Owens said. "Today's tempo was great. They came out with the cool weather and went to work. The offense went first today, and the tempo was great there."

Owens thought about moving up the Wildcat Maker to yesterday to get some life into practice, but decided against it.

"It was planned for today, but I almost did it yesterday," he explained. "I like for kids to get settled in their pads before we throw them into that situation. We talked about tackling without pads, and then once we put them on, we want to make sure we're still doing things fundamentally sound. Plus, some of the soreness is out a little bit by Tuesday. They'll be sore again tomorrow, because it was physical."

Along with the physical part of the practice, a few players are sidelined with minor injuries, but none should carry over into the regular season, Owens said.

SCRIMMAGE AHEAD - The Wildcats will scrimmage Greenville at Gerald Prim Stadium on Saturday morning. The varsity will start at 8 a.m., with the JV and freshmen to go simulateously at about 10:30 a.m.

The varsity squads will go 20 plays each, then engage in some kicking practice. After that, the teams will play a live half with a running clock.

"That way, we can get used to the pace of the game," Owens said. "Greenville is a little thin with some of their guys, so we're going to work with each other on that. Neither of us wants to get our kids beat up, but we want to see what we look like live, and the only way to do that is to get after it."

PICTURE PERFECT - Photo day is Friday for all three SSHS teams. The JV will go first at 8 a.m. at Prim Stadium, with the freshmen to follow at 9 a.m.

The varsity will take team and individual photos at 5 p.m. The photo of team mothers will be at 6 p.m., so they are asked to be there no later than 5:45.

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