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Newberry High School

Newberry football stronger and faster this spring

By C.R. Cumbee

Staff Writer

Newberry—After several months away from the gridiron, the Newberry football team got its spring practices underway May 8.

The Bulldogs have averaged roughly 75 rising sophomores, juniors and seniors per day and will try to build upon a season in which they were 10-4 (4-1), won the region championship, and advanced to the Class AAA Upper State finals.

“I think we’ve got a good group returning. Our junior class was pretty good last year. We’ve had a couple of good days of practice and everybody is excited,” Newberry head coach Phil Strickland said. “They’ve worked hard. We’ve got a lot of them that lift during school and they’ve gotten stronger. We always time them on the first day and I feel like we’ve gotten a lot faster, too.”

The Bulldogs were a pretty young team last season and that experience should pay dividends in 2017. However, there are still some holes to fill due to graduation.

“We’ve got our entire backfield back and we just lost two offensive linemen. Offensive-wise, we’re in pretty good shape. We’ve got most of our defensive backs back, but we’ve got to find some defensive linemen and linebackers,” Strickland said.

The biggest weapon returning is running back Amir Abrams, who rushed for more than 2,500 yards last fall.

“He was pretty vocal last year as a junior and we look for him to continue being a leader. He’s lowered his 40 (yard dash) time and looks bigger and stronger. He’s probably improved two-tenths on his 40-time since last season,” Strickland said.

The coaching staff is preaching fundamentals and is looking for retention of basic schemes and plays. Newberry will wrap up its spring drills May 26.

“We want to get our core defense in and our core offense in and be able to run that pretty good. We’ll start adding some wrinkles in the fall, but we want to go into the summer passing leagues being able to throw and cover,” Strickland said.

In other news, the Newberry track teams have seen some positive results this year, with two runners recently qualifying for the state meet.

Junior Tyler Duncan will compete in three distance events at Spring Valley High after taking first in the 1600-meter run (4:34.17) and 3200-meter run (10:19.04) at the Upper State clash last weekend. He added a second-place finish in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:05.46).

Last year at the state meet, Duncan won a gold medal in the 3200m while nabbing silver in both the 1600m and 800m.

Senior Tyrone Etheredge will join Duncan in Columbia after crossing the finish line third (1:02.00) in the 400-meter hurdles.

Junior sprinter Tyler Hall was the only other member of the team to compete at the Upper State meet. He ran in the 100-meter dash and 200-meter dash.

For the girls’ track team, junior Shamara Tolliver was fourth in the region in the 200-meter dash, but couldn’t match that result in Seneca to earn an invite to the state meet.

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