SIPSEY VALLEY: Ford enthused by what he sees in Bears
Thu. August 23, 2012 at 12:00 a.m. | By Andrew Carroll
Sipsey Valley High School head coach Antonio Ford watches his football team warm up during the Bears' practice on August 7, 2012 (Photo by Betsy Seymour)
BUHL | The Sipsey Valley High School football program, which started with a winless 2010 season, made a couple of progressive steps in 2011.
Sipsey Valley recorded its first victory by beating Northside, 30-18. In their second win, the Bears set a school scoring record in a 48-28 victory over Decatur Heritage Christian.
Antonio Ford took over the program last year, replacing Lance Tucker, who left after the first season to coach at Fayette County.
“I’m very enthused,” Ford said. “The guys have come out since November and worked extremely hard, and it’s showing up here in practice. We have a lot more numbers. I know who my leaders are, and I know what’s been poured into them for a year. We’ve been trying to train them the right way, teaching them how to win ballgames, how to carry themselves on and off the field. I know what to look for and what buttons to push with my players now.
“Our strength and conditioning program has been very successful this year. A lot of the guys made tremendous gains. You can see it in their physique and speed on the field.”
Garret Lewis, who started at quarterback as a freshman in 2010, is back as a junior to run what Ford called a “power pistol” offense.
“Garret gives us a dual threat at quarterback,” Ford said. “He’s an excellent leader. He has size, speed, accuracy, a good arm. He’s a great student in the classroom and a great student of the game. The kids like him and respect him.”
Freshman Garret Jolly has earned the role of No. 2 quarterback.
The running backs in Ford’s system are Taylor Hannah, Trey White, Deion Riley, Jerry Freeman and Carson Windle.
“Taylor and Trey are speed guys,” Ford said. “All of our guys have learned different positions on offense, so they could line up at receiver and on the next play line up at running back.
“We don’t necessarily run a spread offense. We are a power-run team. We’ll throw when we have to. I like the simplicity of the offense. I like the confidence the guys have in what we’re doing.”
Lewis will be throwing to Braylan Smith, Tyler Duncan, Jamarius Leatherwood, Logan Averett and Damien Guy.
Probable starters on the offensive line are center Daniel Silvers, tackles Austin Arrowood and Brylyn Falls and guards Jason Kelley and Nate Rohrer.
“Coach Corey Savage has done a great job with our offensive line,” Ford said. “It’s definitely going to be a strength this year. We have a lot of seniors up front, a lot of leadership and a lot of experience. They’ve gotten a lot stronger in the offseason.”
Ford said he expects Windle to be a leader on defense. Windle, Garrett Hubbard, Edwaun McNeil and Stephen Hester will play at linebacker. Jake Arrowood and Ronyell Edwards are defensive ends. Devanta Freeman and Roshea Edwards could start in the defensive secondary at cornerback with Deion Riley and Dameian Archibald at safety. Tristen Patton will play at defensive tackle.
School: Sipsey Valley High School
Classification: AHSAA Class 3A, Region 3
2011 record: 2-8
2011 playoffs: none
Head coach: Antonio Ford (second year at Sipsey Valley)
Assistant coaches: Michael Harris, defensive coordinator/assistant head coach; Darren Mosley, special teams coordinator/defensive line; B.J. Hutson, linebackers; Eddie Hall, offensive coordinator; Corey Savage, offensive line; Chris Statum, offensive line; Roger Bunn, running backs; Phillip Merryman, wide receivers; Joseph O’Bryant, strength and conditioning; Smitty Smith, offensive assistant
Returning starters: 11
Keep an eye on: QB Garret Lewis (6-0, 200, Jr.), LB Carson Windle (6-0, 200, Sr.), OL/DL Austin Arrowood (6-2, 245, Sr.)
Key games: Sept. 7 at Gordo, Sept. 21 Fayette County, Oct. 26 American Christian Academy
Aug. 30 Central
Sept. 7 at Gordo*
Sept. 14 at Greensboro*
Sept. 21 Fayette County*
Sept. 28 at Curry
Oct. 5 Northside*
Oct. 12 at Greene County*
Oct. 19 at Holt*
Oct. 26 American Christian Acad.*
Nov. 2 Hale County
* Denotes region game