Ex­pe­ri­ence pay­ing div­i­dends for Wolver­ines

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL -

BEN­TONVILLE — While most teams be­gin their pre­sea­son work­outs Mon­day, Ben­tonville West coach Bryan Pratt used that day to get meet­ings with play­ers and par­ents out of the way be­fore the Wolver­ines hit the field Tues­day af­ter­noon.

“Foot­ball has changed since I played a long time ago,” Pratt said. “Back then, you had the twoa-days and the all-days be­cause you had so much stuff to get in be­fore the sea­son started.

“With all we do dur­ing spring ball and dur­ing the sum­mer, it’s not like we haven’t done any­thing. You still have four weeks be­fore your first scrim­mage, so you have plenty of time to get things in. It’s a long grind, when you also add the length of the sea­son.”

Things have been no­tice­ably dif­fer­ent as West be­gins its sec­ond sea­son. Pratt said he no­tices a sense of ma­tu­rity around his team that wasn’t there last sea­son when ev­ery­thing was new.

Many Wolver­ines were get­ting their first taste of var­sity ac­tion at this time last year, but the ex­pe­ri­ence they earned from that in­au­gu­ral cam­paign has car­ried over to this sea­son.

“We talk about stack­ing good prac­tices to­gether,” Pratt said. “The more you can stack to­gether, the bet­ter you are. Through the first three days, we’ve had high in­ten­sity prac­tices, and we have a en­er­getic team that is a lit­tle more fo­cused than we were last year.”

West has slightly more than 100 play­ers dressed out — com­pared to 70 at this time last year — but sum­mer in­juries have left their mark, par­tic­u­larly on the Wolver­ines’ de­fense. Lineback­ers Se­bas­tian Caniglia, Hunter Swo­boda and Levi Ruther­ford all are on the side­lines to be­gin fall drills.

Caniglia, West’s lead­ing tack­ler last sea­son, hopes to re­turn dur­ing the sec­ond half of the sea­son as he re­cov­ers from a knee in­jury he suf­fered at a Tulsa team camp, while Swo­boda and Ruther­ford could be back be­fore the sea­son opener Sept. 1 against Pryor, Okla. Swo­boda, a trans­fer from Pu­laski Robin­son along with his brother Tucker, was hurt dur­ing a com­bine in Lit­tle Rock, while Ruther­ford is re­cov­er­ing from off­sea­son surgery.

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