This time around, it will be the Panthers who are young and inexperienced when the teams kickoff the 2013 season at Fayetteville Friday at 7 p.m.
Spring Garden head coach Jason Howard traveled to Sylacauga last Friday to see the Wolves in action in the B.B. Comer jamboree.
Fayetteville defeated Ohatchee in two quarters and led Comer after one quarter before eventually falling to the Tigers. Howard came away impressed, describing Fayetteville as “very much improved, very physical, with a very athletic quarterback.”
“They just ran it down Ohatchee’s throat. They got in the ‘I’ – have a real good tailback, real good fullback, didn’t throw the ball a whole lot – and ran just power football behind a big offensive line,” Howard said. “It wasn’t that any one of them stood out. I felt like all of them played pretty well.”
Howard said the Wolves lost very few players from the 2012 roster. The additional year of growth and work in the weight room showed in the physical maturity of the current team.
“The fullback, who is real good, was only a ninth-grader last year. They’re more mature, more physical looking.
Definitely, they played a more physical ball game than they did last year but all of them were coming back,” said Howard.
For a change, there was a little good news for Spring Garden faithful Monday. X-rays showed no break in the ankle senior quarterback Will Ivey injured in Thursday’s jamboree action against Sand Rock.
Despite the negative X-rays, Ivey was unable to practice Monday and freshman Ben Ivey took the practice snaps in his older brother’s place. Howard said the decision on the elder Ivey’s availability for the Fayetteville would be made looking at the whole season rather than one game.
“I would rather sit him out for a week or two, get him completely healed, than have it nag him all year,” Howard said.
The film the Panther have of their jamboree action against Sand Rock and Fyffe has already started to pay dividends. Howard said he felt his players have already been able to correct some of mistakes they made Thursday evening.
“We were able to break that film down and show them, ‘Okay, this is what we’re talking about when we show you this,’” he said.
Asked what he considered the key to a successful outing for the Panthers, Howard replied, “We have to be able to stop the run. We knew coming into the season that that was going to be one of the focal points on defense to be in games, to stop the run.”
He added that his defense could not afford to give up big plays to Fayetteville’s offense.