Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

May 17, 2013

A strict schedule

Sequoyah going through modified spring practice while adhering to sanctions.

A bell rings out, signaling the end of another school day.

At most schools, the echoing sound of the bell can be heard on football fields off in the distance. Players continue on with spring practice, not giving a second thought about the faint noise that falls in line with a coach’s whistle.

At Sequoyah, the final bell of the day rings out at 3:15. Students flood the hallways in an attempt to make a quick getaway from dry-erase boards or textbooks.

In the past, the Sequoyah football team would continue to drudge on as their classmates went off to enjoy a pleasant spring afternoon. This year, the final bell of the school day comes with a reminder...

Be off the football field, or else.

It’s a harsh reminder for the Indians, who are prohibited from participating in a traditional spring practice. The consequence was levied upon Sequoyah after the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association found the Indians to be in violation of summer-camp policies.

Despite rolling to a district title in the fall, the Indians were forced to forfeit all nine of their victories during the 2012 season. Sequoyah was also told it could not hold typical spring drills.

The penalties were imposed on Sequoyah during the recent winter months, and the OSSAA closed its case against the Indians in early February. That gave head coach Shane Richardson some time to plan.

“We’ve known for a while what we’re faced with,” said Richardson, who was named as the interim head coach after former coach Brent Scott was suspended prior to the Indians’ Week 9 game at Hilldale. Richardson soon had the interim tag removed during the offseason.

“We had a lot of time to figure out a plan. We knew about these sanctions a long time ago.”

With that, Richardson drew up his spring plans. Those resulted in his players dressing out in shorts and a T-shirt and hitting the practice field for roughly an hour each day.

“We went through a little bit of fundamentals, and a little bit of install for some new offensive tweaks that we have,” said Richardson, whose club will also be forbidden to play in preseason scrimmages prior to the beginning of the 2013 season.

“All in all, I think we got a lot done, considering what we were faced with.”

The most pressing item each day for the Indians was making sure they were off the field by the time school let out. At practice on Thursday, Sequoyah assistant coach Phil Angieri could be heard yelling out, “Fifteen minutes left coach.”

Sequoyah was off the field and in the locker room 10 minutes later.

“Everything is on a tight schedule,” Richardson said. “We get them in here and we hustle them out. And we want to be completely off the field when the last bell rings.”

Before kick-starting spring practice this season, Richardson inquired about his team’s plans and cleared them with the OSSAA.

“We talked with the OSSAA a couple of times and let them know what our spring schedule was going to be,” Richardson said. “Made sure that was OK. Had good conversations with them, and once we got that down, we started going out.”

Sequoyah’s customized spring drills came to a conclusion on Thursday. The Indians were able to get in eight days of field time, which Richardson said was all about giving maximum effort.

“Our main focus as coaches this spring was to get everyone out there competing,” he said. “We told them all that they’re starting with a clean slate. Most of coaches have been here for a while, but we’re approaching things as if we’re a new staff. We got everyone out competing, and we just observed. We coached them up, but no one was playing for a position.”

Sequoyah’s summer docket will be much lighter this year than in recent memory. The Indians will not be allowed to take part in team camps of 7-on-7 drills. That means June, July and August will be all about conditioning for Sequoyah.

“We have a little summer thing [planned], where we’ll come in here and work out for a hour and a half,” said Cody Hooper, a soon-to-be senior wide receiver and defensive back for the Indians.

“We just have to try and get bigger and faster.”

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