Leader Blues

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

SPORTS >> So far, breaks have all been bad for Bears

Leader sports writer

During August camp, Sylvan Hills coach Jim Withrow said he had a lot of confidence in his team, as long as the Bears could stay injury free.

That confidence is waning.

Sylvan Hills (0-4, 0-1 5A-Southeast) will host its first conference game of the season Thursday when Mills University Studies comes to visit. The game will be featured as the KARZ-TV Channel 42 Fearless game of the week.

The Bears have been without leading defender Michael Robinson for two weeks now. Robinson, Sylvan Hills’ 6-2, 198-pound senior defensive end, went out with an ankle injury in Week 2, which put a dent in the defensive armor.

It was senior running back/rover Juliean Broner who came out early in the Bears’ Week 3 game against North Little Rock with what turned out to be a torn meniscus in his knee. Broner will be out for four weeks.

The Bears got dinged up a little more Friday in a disappointing 28-0 loss on the road at White Hall. Senior linebacker Devonte Britt, along with junior lineman Alex Smith and linebacker Cordell Edwards, all came out of the game with injuries.

Britt has a high ankle sprain and is doubtful for Thursday. Smith suffered a slight concussion, and Edwards has a hip flexor sprain and will most likely be out for one to two weeks.

“We’re just trying to stay above water right now,” Withrow said. “We’ve just got a three-game stretch to win a game until we get to Monticello. We need a win to feel good about ourselves and get some confidence. It’s a tough situation, but there are still enough seniors to hold the fort until some of these guys get back.”

Moving the ball has not been the problem for the Bears so far. They got inside the White Hall 10-yard line three different times during last week’s 28-0 loss to the Bulldogs, but came up empty each time. A missed field goal, an interception and a turnover on downs all cost Sylvan Hills in the red zone.

It’s a dilemma Withrow has grown accustomed to at this point.

“We’ve had the ball in the red zone seven times in the last two weeks and came up completely empty,” Withrow said. “It’s frustrating to look at the guys we have out, and think that we could have, should have, would have won the last two games.

Instead, we’re looking at a difficult situation. We have to figure out a way to get it in.”

Mills, suffered a loss to Monticello last week, which made the Comets 2-2 and 0-1 in the Southeast. The Mills offense features speedy backs and a slippery multiple option set, and a defense that had not given up more than 20 points in a game until it faced mighty Monticello last week.

“Their option game is definitely a concern,” Withrow said. “They run the ball really well. Their quarterback is extremely fast and makes good decisions. Losing both our outside linebackers killed us last week, and it’s going to be hard this week, especially against an option where it’s all assignment football. It’s going to be hard to get them ready for the option this week.”