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By Jason Avery

News-Times Staff

Since becoming Strong’s head coach at the end of June, Sirl Wright has been busy getting accustomed to the job and his team.

The Bulldogs had their first two practices under Wright on Monday and Tuesday night, and the first-year coach said his team focused on fundamentals.

“Conditioning and the raw basics,” Wright said. “We’re just tackling and blocking. Those are the big factors we’re working on.”

Given his late arrival, Wright is using early the practices to get a feel for what type of personnel he has.

“I’m pretty much just feeling them out,” Wright said. “We’ve been going over base rules and seeing what their knowledge of the game is so I know how to apply certain schemes. Just basically getting a better background of the kids.”

After Wednesday’s practice, teams can don shells, but Wright said the Bulldogs may hold off on that.

“It depends on numbers,” Wright said. “We’re a small school, so you can’t beat them up too bad because then we’ll be limited. We have to be careful and choose our big hitting days wisely.”

As far as numbers go, Wright said participation has grown early on, but he is hoping to see an improvement.

“It has grown both days, but we definitely need a lot more,” Wright said. “That’s one of the things I emphasized to the kids. The more numbers the better, and you can spread the responsibilities around. I understand we’re a small school, but we still need to improve our numbers.”

Wright added that he expects to get some additions once the school year begins.

“From 4A down, participation pretty much picks up once school starts,” Wright said. “A lot of kids live out in the country. Others visit family and they’ll be off for the summer or go on vacations. You may be devoted as a coach, but not every kid is going to be 100 percent devoted to football. Some coaches decide to penalize them, but when you’re in 2A, you can’t kick everybody off the team that doesn’t show up each and every day or you won’t have a team. It’s a special way of manipulating through that as 2A coaches.”

Although zero week means some schools will get an earlier start, the Bulldogs won’t start their season until August 31, and Wright thinks the later start will benefit his team as they get adjusted to their new schemes on offense and defense.

“I think it helps us,” Wright said. “I prefer not to have an open week if I can avoid it. Kids like a routine. When you start playing into the zero week factor and start games early and you still have to be at 10 games and have an off week early, some teams have dropped to eight-man football, so you may have two weeks off.”

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