Spring into shape

Published 9:21 am Friday, April 3, 2009

MURFREESBORO, N.C.— Spring football practice may not be a barrel of fun, but it’s a time for work that makes a team better when the real games begin in the fall. Looking to improve on a 2-8 campaign in 2008, the Chowan University football team opened spring practice this week with high hopes. Optimism is running higher this year after a tough start last year.

Tim Place, now beginning his second year as head coach, was named to lead the team in April last year and did not participate in spring practice. He also did not have a chance to recruit his own players. This year, both of those hurdles are gone.

“We didn’t have a spring last year, which really hurt us. The fall was a scramble with installation and teaching technique. We don’t want to teach technique in the fall,” Place said after Wednesdays practice. “Spring is about teaching technique. We emphasize getting better as an individual, getting better as a unit, and getting better as a team. It’s about providing an opportunity to show what they can do. But the bottom line is getting better.”

At Wednesday’s practice, the team worked on a variety of tasks, including special teams blocking and running the various offensive sets. Last year’s Hawks relied on quarterback C.J. Westler’s passing ability in a pass-laden offensive attack. Westler threw for 2,214 yards and 21 touchdowns. Although last year’s team was 2-8, the school had two firsts — Chowan beat an NCAA Division II team for the first time ever and also won its first CIAA game.

Place said he is encouraged by the team’s recruiting efforts so far.

“We have signed some players, we have some verbals, and some quality walk-ons,” Place said. “We are still working on some others. We are further along than we expected to be. We’ve got some good kids coming in.”

Place said he is looking for his players to show effort during the spring sessions.

“We control attitude, effort, commitment, and dedication. That’s a personal choice and has nothing to do with God given ability,” Place said. “It’s a decision we make on a daily basis. As long as we are taking care of those things on a daily basis, we will be alright.”

Practices will run for the allowable 15 days on Saturdays, Sundays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. The practice period will culminate with the “Blue and White” scrimmage game at 10:00 a.m. on April 25 at Garrison Stadium.

The Hawks will open the 2009 season on the road against Old Dominion University, a first year NCAA DI program, in Norfolk on September 5th.