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Two-a-Day Tour: Expectations high as Pine Tree begins fall practice

By Hayden Henry
Aug. 5, 2013 at 11 p.m.


At one end of Pine Tree's practice field three letters are brandished into the fence.

On the field and in the weight room, W.A.O. was put into practice as the Pirates kicked off August workouts on Monday, gearing up for a much-anticipated season.

While the mantra of the 2013 squad holds several meanings (Win As One, We Are One, Win Another One ... among others), the acronym serves as a reminder as how the Pirates will approach the season.

"Everybody's getting after it, we're pushing through and doing what we need to do this year," senior offensive lineman Andrew Lee said. "W.A.O. means go as hard as you can all the time."

Senior captain Chris Ferguson echoed his teammate's thoughts, saying that this years' team is moving at a new pace.

"Compared to last year, it's a lot more up-tempo," Ferguson said. "We're running around the field, we're getting our reps done faster, we're going between plays faster. I definitely think it's going to show this season."

With a new scheme on both sides of the ball – including the hiring of three-time state champion Barry Bowman as the defensive coordinator – and an experienced squad returning to the field, expectations are high for Pine Tree – expectations that the Pirates are using as both motivation and remaining humble.

"It's going to be a strength for us all around," Lee said. "We're going to have the offense and we're going to have the defense and we're all going to show up.

"The expectations are a big positive for us. People are going to be there supporting and we're going to do what we need to do."

Ferguson added that it's great to have the high goals but keeping a level head is important.

"I don't want us to think too high of ourselves and us go into the season and have a bad game because that will leave your head hanging," he said. "We've got to keep a level head that way when the good comes, it will be that much better."

Athletic director and head coach Derek Fitzhenry said that the enthusiasm that was in the Pirate camp throughout the offseason was evident in Monday's workout and commented about a rise in leadership on the team.

"The kids really got involved in our SWAP (summer workout) program and we had some leadership develop there too, I'm really proud of the leadership on this team," Fitzhenry said. "We've got five guys that the team selected as captains and we had a whole lot of other guys receive votes too and that shows that we've got leadership throughout the whole team."

Joining Ferguson as team captains are senior quarterback Caleb Chumley, tackle Jacob Smith, running back Quay Ward and athlete Jonathan Giddings.

With 20 lettermen returning from 2012, including 17 starters, paired with more than 150 players in football this season, according to Fitzhenry, competition for spots is rampant in all phases of the game and will be a focus for the Pirates over the next three weeks.

"That's a great thing to have," Fitzhenry said. "We've got some depth for sure with 100-plus sophomore through senior players, it creates that competition and it's a big thing for us. We've got some younger classes coming throw that excelled at the freshman level."

Managing the Pirates' high expectations isn't an issue for Fitzhenry, who said his teams' hard work will keep them in check.

"You've got to put the work in and we have a lot left to do," he said. "You can judge where we are by the work that's put in. If you go out there and ride that excitement, it'll keep you focused. You've just got to put in that time, put the work in and the rest will take care of itself and that's where we are now.

"They have the high expectations of winning and they want that, they've put a lot into this."

The Pirates will spend the next few weeks working on the little things, according to Fitzhenry, as they transition to the spread offense and the 3-3 stack defense, both new schemes for Pine Tree.

"I think we're going to be more physical and do a better job on defense, just the overall execution will be better," Fitzhenry said. "Our receiving corp is on track, we've got some good competition there. We're still looking at running back and there's some good competition there as well, too.

"For now, it's just the small things, the two-a-day things ... things that in three weeks will be settled up for sure."

Sam Stoker – a 6-5, 340-pound guard – commented that if the Pirates' spirits are as high as they were on Monday, it's going to be a different season for Pine Tree.

"Everybody's ready, nobody's whining and if we keep that up, it's going to be good," he said. "We're going to win some games, compete hard and show everyone that we're a changed team."

Pine Tree opens its 2013 campaign at the new Pirate Stadium on August 30 against Van.

<em>Follow Hayden Henry on Twitter: <a href="https://twitter.com/hayden_h" target="_blank">@hayden_h</a></em>

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