Wolves get down to work

The excitement is back in the air at South Kitsap High School as the 2004 football season got under way with the first day of practice Wednesday.

And there are plenty of expectations and just as many question marks as the Wolves begin preparations for their Sept. 3 opener at Lincoln in Tacoma.

"They've met the expectations in some cases and we still have work to do in others," Sigurdson said after Thursday's practice. "They are really inexperienced, and in some things, their inexperience is showing up. But the one thing that's been true about them since last season ended is that they are not afraid to work."

South finished the 2003 season with a 6-3 mark and missed out on a trip to the Class 4A playoffs for the first time since the 1979 season.

The first three days of practice saw the 92 kids that turned out for football broken into two groups - one for new players and the second for returning players. The newbies practice for three hours in helmets and shorts in the morning session while the older group held court in the afternoon.

"We had 96-97 at football camp, so that's what I expected (to turn out)," Sigurdson said. "We knew we were going to be right around 90."

Sigurdson said there was about a 10-man turn around in those that turned out for SK's football camp in June and those that are in practice now. A few players are getting their very first taste of South Kitsap football.

"We have a huge number of new players," Sigurdson said. "We have 50 guys that are new. I think the returning players came in and were ready to go. The new guys, they weren't quite sure what to expect but they're doing a good job."

And a few have already caught the eye of Sigurdson, who is entering his eighth year as South's head coach.

"(Senior runningback) Anthony Galloway looks really good," Sigurdson said. "He's excited to step into that role, he's really excited (to get his chance)."

Both groups have shown plenty of excitement over the first days - and the ability to have fun. But they have also shown the ability to get better and improve.

Sigurdson pointed out that this group averaged a twenty percent improvement in the weight room as a whole over the course of the summer.

"They're not afraid to work," Sigurdson said. "They like to work, it’s just a matter of getting that maturity of being able to concentrate."

Sigurdson stressed the importance of keeping it together mentally at the end of practice Thursday, especially to his group of returnees. He and assistant coach Jim Fairweather both scolded the group for losing its focus toward the end of practice.

During the final session Thursday, the group ran plays in an 11-on-11 mock scrimmage and there were plenty of mental lapses as linemen jumped offside and receivers and back went the wrong direction or ran the wrong route. There were also plenty of dropped passes.

"What you saw out here, and it's the second day and the end of the day, the concentration starts to wane a little," Sigurdson said. "Then you have mental breakdowns and mechanical breakdowns and stuff and that's what we are trying to focus on. We just need to mature."

That again comes in the sheer numbers of new players that are on the field this year. But they will have to work it out in practice as the Wolves will not face a live opponent until September.

"We don't have the luxury of a jamboree," Sigurdson said. "We can't take 50-60 kids to a game-like situation and be able to go out there and play and be on film at full speed against another team. The purpose of the jamboree is just to get guys on film and watch them play the next day and we don't have that luxury. We have to battle."

The excitement level was high throughout the first two days as many players, especially some of the newbies, had to be settled down and told to curtail the aggressiveness until they were in pads.

"That's the nature of being a football player - you just can't wait to hit somebody," Sigurdson said. "They're working hard and adjusting and working through the growing pains of the first couple of days of being in a high school sport."

The two groups will come together as one beginning today with two-a-days and the hits will start coming.

"I'd say they are chomping at the bit a little bit," Sigurdson said. "We're out here getting better and working on the mental part of it and there's a lot of explanation and doing things at walking speed. I think they are ready to be done with all that and are ready to start playing some football."

Wolves holding up injury-wise: One thing missing from the first two days of practice has been injuries, something that pleases both Sigurdson and South head trainer Pat Olsen.

"It's been good," Olsen said. "This has been a little light. Everything else has been dings from the summer."

Senior wide receiver and defensive back Kyle Vetter has missed all the practice session since getting sick during Tuesday night's Wolf Run but Olsen said it's nothing serious and he is expected to begin practice today.

Junior lineman Andrew Thatcher suffered a mild sprained ankle Thursday and sat out most of that session with ice on it. He is also expected to be back in action this weekend.

Team captains living up to label: Sigurdson said he has been very happy with the way team captains Dylan Pierce and Jeff Coulon have responded in practice. Pierce, a senior wide receiver and defensiveback, and Coulon, a senior fullback and outside linebacker, were named team captains at the end of the school year.

"The captain situation is working out," Sigurdson said. "They are doing a good job of leading by example."

Scrimmage set for Tuesday afternoon: The Wolves won't see anyone but themselves until their Sept. 3 opener at Lincoln but they will have a pair of inter-squad scrimmages Tuesday afternoon. The sophomores will scrimmage each other at 4 p.m. and the juniors and seniors will go at each other at 5 p.m.

Expect each offense to start at the 40 yard line and drive until they are stopped on downs, turn the ball over or score. The two teams will alternate possessions for about 40 minutes. Both scrimmages will be officiated.

New looks in store for stadium: Joe Knowles Field will have a couple of new looks this year and two of them will be in the endzones as the school has decided to replace the goal posts.

Workers have been busy this week setting the anchor pole in the ground in each end zone with the crossbar and uprights being added soon.

The pressbox on top of the school is also getting a facelift as workers have put a new coat of paint on it for the new season. The brand new concession stand, ticket office and restrooms should be completed by the Sept. 17 home opener as well.

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