SYLVAN HILLS FOOTBALL | Bears ready to play

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The time is near. Kickoff time.

The Sylvan Hills Bears have but a few more things to do before they make the trip to Vilonia to take on the Eagles.

Pictures this week, the Blue and White scrimmage and a scrimmage at Pulaski Robinson are what is left before the 2013 season gets underway.

The Bears are a different team. Head coach Jim Withrow said he feels much better about his team this season than he did at this time in 2012.

“We are more mature,” Withrow said. “We are a faster, more consistent team.”

The opening weeks of last season were a bit tumultuous. Weather wreaked havoc on high school football altogether, plus the Bears had to make some tough player decisions due to lack inconsistency.

Those problems seem to be a distant memory with more stability at quarterback and at other positions.

Withrow gives credit to his coaches Rocky Fawcett, Chad Collins, and Denny Tipton.

“They’ve all been head coaches,” Withrow said. “They know the game, but more importantly they know how to make adjustments in the middle of a game.”

Tipton was credited last year for being somewhat of a miracle worker adjusting his personnel along the offensive line. The Bears are nearly equally as thin up front. That means Tipton may have to find more magic.

While Withrow is high on his coaches, he also realistic, he has to have players.

“Got to have the horses,” Withrow said.

And Withrow believes he has a nice stable.

“I think for the first time in a while we’ve got a good cycle of players,” Withrow said. “We are able to do some things we haven’t been able to do in the past.”

The Bears have already taken a hit up front. Dakota Dalton has suffered a strained hip flexor muscle while defensive end Matt Thompson, who is going to be an important player this season, has a bad hamstring. Thompson missed significant time to injury last season.

That’s bad news for a group that is thin up front to begin with, and Withrow acknowledges that such injuries are unaffordable.

“We are a good team, there’s no doubt,” Withrow said, “but we are an injury or two away from disaster.”

The Bears are more mature, appear to be more talented, and have a year of adversity under their belt when they still made a playoff appearance.

The journey begins soon at Vilonia. For the Bears, they hope that journey has at least one extra step.

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