The Sylvan Hills Bears were green in 2008 with only 10 seniors, but a tenacious defense and two-headed ground attack marched the team to a 4-3 5A-Southeast record and into the playoffs.
“I thought we got better as the season went along and showed we belonged in the playoffs,” coach Jim Withrow said. “Beating Crossett in the final seconds with a field goal was defining for us last year. It showed us that if we hung in there, we could still win despite many issues.
Youth was a weakness in 2008, but it has now blossomed into a strength for 2009.
Seniors lead the way at every skill position: Jordan Spears at quarterback, Juliean Broner at tailback and Ahmad Scott at wide receiver.
“Offensively we are going to throw the ball more than we have,” Withrow said. “This will be new for us, and we hope the extra time we have spent on it will pay off.”
Defense led the way last season, and heading into the fall, defense appears to be leading the way yet again. Nick Brewer and junior Alex Smith return on the line at the defensive end positions. Michael Robinson anchors the linebacker corps on the inside, and safety Emmanuel Tanner and cornerback Aronde Thomas had successful spring practices in the secondary.
“Defensively we want to play fast and put pressure on opposing offenses,” Withrow said. “I don’t mind if we have to hang our hat on our defense. I’d much rather be in the position of where we have to get better on offense than having to score 30 points a game because we can’t stop anyone.
“We have a lot of work to do as a team, but I do like the talent we have.”
Sept. 4 – Malvern
Sept. 11 – Cabot (Away)
Sept. 18 – North LR (Away)
Sept. 25 – White Hall (Away)
Oct. 1 – Mills
Oct. 9 – Crossett
Oct. 16 – North Pulaski (Away)
Oct. 23 – Monticello (Away)
Oct. 30 – LR McClellan
Nov. 5 – Beebe