Inconsistent. Stagnant. Frustrating.
Those are some of the words that could have described the Sylvan Hills’ offense in the first part of last season.
The Bears had trouble maintaining offensive fluidity. A good half against Hot Springs Lakeside before a rainstorm cancelled the second half was negated by performances going into the first games of the conference season.
Finally, Sylvan Hills head coach had to make a tough decision to bench his starting senior quarterback J.D. Miller in favor of then sophomore Tra Doss.
Doss had been getting playing time under center, and Withrow felt like he had to make the call.
“It was the toughest decision I had ever had to make,” Withrow said. “J.D. had played well for us as a junior.”
Doss had been putting in spot duty at quarterback throughout the first half of the year, and Withrow decided to hand the offense over in hopes of creating stability, and the fact that Doss brought another dimension to the game.
Doss can run. He rushed for more than 600 yards last year, and Withrow said that with Doss in at quarterback, the Bears were better at moving the football down the field.
The decision paid off in wins and losses as well. Doss won four of his five starts to push the Bears into the playoffs where they lost to Greenbrier.
Now there’s 2013.
Withrow said Doss has vastly improved since last season and looks much better throwing the football in summer competition.
“He’s more accurate,” Withrow said, “and I know his arm has gotten stronger.”
And he’s making better decisions.
“He’s got a lot of confidence,” Withrow said. “He’s got a lot of mental toughness. He doesn’t talk a lot. He’s just confident in himself, and he makes plays.”
Doss will have weapons around him this coming season as well with Marlon Cleamons returning at running back, another 600-yard rusher last season. Add Elijah Sowards at fullback along with Nathan Thomas and Marcus Long, and Doss’ biggest decision may be where to distribute the football.
Withrow’s decision to throw Doss to the wolves last season may have been tough, but may reap big dividends in the next two seasons.