Warriors make good use of annual workouts
By Wes Holtsclaw
When Happy Valley’s football team returned to Warrior Hill for spring workouts, head coach Larry Shively had four goals in mind: Establish toughness, set a strong tempo, identify some key contributors for the upcoming season and have fun.
According to Shively, the goals were met with resounding success as workouts, which included scrimmages against North Greene and Sullivan Central, came to a conclusion two weeks ago.
“We had a productive spring, I thought,” Shively said Wednesday. “We always have some kids missing for baseball and track and things like that. We generally go into spring practice with three or four goals. I think we met each one of them.”
A 4-6 team one season ago, the Warriors were a couple of scores away from turning 4-6 into a playoff caliber 6-4 at the Class 3-A playoff level. Improving on a general set of objectives could be the big difference come August.
“The first (goal) was to establish toughness in all of our positions offensive, defensive and in the kicking game and I thought we did that,” said Shively. “The other thing I thought was good was our practice tempo, reminding these kids how we want to practice. We don’t waste time, stand around, go from station to station and get our work done.
“Another spring objective was to identify some runners and hitters on both sides of the ball. It’s a collision sport and we want to get the people out who can move around and stick our face in the sand in terms of contact. There were some people we knew about from last year and we had some surprises.
“Finally, the last thing was to have fun. It’s a long offseason lifting weights, running stadium steps and those things. It’s good to get the football out, go out and put the pads on. It’s a reminder of why we play this great game.”
The Warriors are set to return five starters on both the offensive and defensive sides of the football. From there, Shively says the team has several new guys “trying to find their way in” and competing for a number of spots.
Leading the way from the backfield will be a pair of standout runners in Phillip Garland and Austin Hicks, who look to anchor the tribe’s offensive efforts.
“Those are two good ones to have back,” the coach said. “That makes us feel a little bit better at night.”
On the offensive front, Seth Chesser, Roger Clark and Devin Peters have been called upon to fill roles and join returners Nathan Roark and Conner Cross.
“Those guys are going to do a great job for us because they want to do good,” Shively said. “They’re smart kids and are a coach’s dream.”
Defensively, Sam Webb had a good spring, while Josh Hammond showed dynamic athleticism in the defensive backfield. Ryan Saugher is another senior that will be expected to play a lot of downs.
“We know what some of our kids can do after this spring,” added the coach. “We really saw some people step up and try to compete. You have to have some guys pushing each other for playing time.”
Shively said the Warriors showed out well in their two scrimmages.
“We hosted North Greene in our first scrimmage,” he said. “I thought we saw quite a bit on both sides of the ball. We moved the ball pretty good and I thought we played pretty good defense. We made some silly mistakes, but that’s what spring is for figuring out who can play, who can listen to coaching.
“We went to Central for our last scrimmage and I thought we did some good things there also. We came out of those with our main objectives and keeping everybody healthy. Everybody came out relatively unscathed so that was a plus.”
The Warriors will shy away from seven-on-seven camps and competition this summer as it doesn’t suit the style of play that the team will bring to the gridiron. Instead, the team is going to focus on getting bigger, stronger and faster via intrasquad activities and weight lifting.
Thus far, the participation has been strong and there is an air of excitement from the senior class down to the newcomers.
“I think we had 51 kids out there (Wednesday),” Shively said. “Of course, that number can fluctuate as we go through the summer. Football’s a tough sport. If it was easy there would be a hundred kids out there. These are tough kids and they are really excited about summer workouts and getting stronger.
“The seniors are an extension of the coaching staff and showing these kids what we expect here at Happy Valley. The kids are excited to get out there and see what happens in the fall on Fridaynights.”