Bears’ head football coach Harry Crum talks to players during a timeout in a scrimmage game at Memorial Stadium. Keith is hard at work in the weight room preparing for the 2012 football season. -- File Photo

Bears get stronger in spring

Published 11:01pm Thursday, March 22, 2012

While some may think the end of the season represents a vacation of sorts for football players, for the Keith Bears, the offseason simply represents the beginning of a new season.

Offseason weightlifting and conditioning is underway at Keith High School, and Bears’ head football coach Harry Crum said the players are working hard as they look to the fall.

“The guys are in the weight room and they’re really working hard with that,” Crum said. “We average probably 15 to 18 guys coming out every day working. Some of the guys are tied up with track or have other extracurricular activities they’re doing right now, but I feel that the good core of kids we’ve got are coming out there and working pretty hard and it’s going to pay off in the fall.”

Coming off an 8-3 season that saw them finish the season undefeated at home before falling at Sweet Water in the first round of the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 1A playoffs, Crum is instilling in his players the importance of a strong offseason program to the Bears’ efforts to build on last season’s success.

“Some people seem to think that the games are only won in August when the season starts, but I know that strength and conditioning plays such a vital role,” Crum said. “I tell them, if you can get 50 pounds stronger on your bench press then you’ll be that much more effective as a player because what those weights do is when you get stronger, it instills confidence. If you’re confident, you’re going to play harder and a lot of times that transmits into playing better.”

The Bears will put on the pads for spring practices on May 1 and will finish spring football with a game against St. Jude on May 18 in Orrville at 6:30 p.m.

Crum said the Bears are looking forward to that game and the season as a whole because they have many returning starters.

“This is going to be a senior-laden class — we’ve got 11 upcoming seniors in this class — and if I’m not mistaken, we’ve got nine of 11 starters coming back on offense and about eight of 11 coming back on defense, so I’m looking forward to this year. We lost some key kids in Larry Molette and Eric Tolbert, Isaac Boglin and Bobby Barnes. Those kids were good football players, but I just think that just the natural maturity and strength of some of those guys will make them a year stronger and hopefully a year wiser. Hopefully, we’ll be able to make some noise this year.”

Keith’s preparation won’t stop with the end of spring training, though, as Crum will look to once again take his players to the Southeastern Wing-T Camp in Carrollton, Ga. on June 14-17 that helps Keith middle and high school players prepare to run the Bears’ intricate style of offense.

“Last year, we took six kids, and this year we’re planning on taking anywhere from 25 to 30,” Crum said. “That just gives us that little boost because they work on the nuances that I, as a coach, couldn’t get to working on by myself. The kids will get anywhere from 1,500 to 2,000 reps in a three-and-a-half-day period. I don’t know with some of the kids that I could get that in a whole season. It’s totally non contact, but the repetitions that they get from the drills and the group work and teamwork is invaluable.”

Ultimately, the Bears will look to improve after a strong finish last season.

“I’m proud of the way that the kids played last year, and I think down in Sweet Water — especially the first half — they showed on any given night they can play with anybody,” Crum said. “Hopefully, that confidence will transfer over to this season and we can just pick up where we left off.”



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