Osbourn Park football Coach Mike Feldman had grown tired of his players growing tired. So, after last season, he informed the Yellow Jackets they would have to pass a basic physical-fitness test to play in 1999.
The new mandate seems to have worked. Feldman said 95 percent of his players tested satisfactorily in the workout, which featured weightlifting, the 40-yard dash and a mile run.
"Because our guys were so out of shape at the beginning of last year, I told the kids I wasn't going to go through another year like that," said Feldman, whose team beat Stonewall Jackson in its 1998 season finale to finish, 1-9. "When you're strong and in better shape, you're not as inclined to give in."
Each player had to bench-press his weight. Linemen had to run the 40-yard dash in 6.2 seconds or faster and the mile in 9 minutes 30 seconds or faster. The other players had to run the 40 in 5.2 seconds and the mile in 7:30. No player failed all three tests.
"I've seen the results," Feldman said after practice Thursday. "It's hot and humid, but our kids looked good. They were a little gassed, but they weren't trying to find ways to get out of stuff like last year."
Feldman said his team didn't "wake up" until the third quarter of the eighth game of the 1998 season, a 34-30 loss to Hedgesville (W. Va). The Yellow Jackets, outscored 260-83 last fall, fell to Woodbridge the following week before rebounding in the 10th game to knock off Stonewall, avenging a Week 3 defeat.
"We were the only 1-9 team that wanted to play the next week," Feldman said.
The Yellow Jackets will rely on a 22-man senior class this season. Three offensive linemen are coming off knee or ankle surgeries.
Hylton's Weighty Problem
Hylton will head into Washington this morning to scrimmage Carroll. While there, the Bulldogs hope to find some offensive linemen.
Hylton returns all-Cardinal District first-team tackles John Brower and Billy Reyers, but Coach Bill Brown said he has a lot of question marks beyond those two. And Reyers reported at 200 pounds, some 30 pounds lighter than last season.
"We don't have a number of linemen with any real size to them," Brown said. "We probably graduated a couple guys who didn't play much who could really help us out right now."
A shoulder injury to one candidate and a mild concussion to another have not aided the lineman search.
The defending Virginia AAA Division 6 state champion Bulldogs seek no pity, which is a good thing, because they likely would get none from their Cardinal District brethren, who drool at their wealth of skill players.
Asked to rattle off some of the top returnees in the district, one coach half-joked, "Everybody on Hylton's team."
A Head Start
Karl Buckwalter has a lot of football to instruct at new school Colonial Forge, but there is one thing he won't have to teach most of the Eagles--how to put on shoulder pads.
The boys Buckwalter coached the past several seasons at McLean High School didn't play middle school football, whereas the Stafford County boys do.
"I'm two years ahead of schedule," Buckwalter said. "I'd say 90 percent of [the Eagles] have played football. At McLean, 90 percent hadn't played. It's a great thing as far as building a program."
The first-year Eagles, who open the season with varsity games against Forestville (Md.), Broad Run and Brentsville and play a junior varsity schedule the rest of the fall, currently draw from five middle schools. Buckwalter said an assistant coach is assigned to each school to track the Colonial Forge-bound talent.
The Eagles, with no senior class in 1999-2000, have 93 players in the program and plan to attract even more after school starts.
"We're advertising it as 'No experience necessary,' " Buckwalter said. "We feel like if we can get a kid out, he's going to want to stay."
Some of the top Eagles so far are tailback James Davis, the brother of 1998 All-Met Offensive Player of the Year Daniel Davis, now at the University of North Carolina; linebacker/fullback Chris Corbin; linebacker/fullback Chris Corwin; defensive end Chris Fulmer; cornerback/receiver Brandon Jackson; tailback/linebacker Brandon McKinney; lineman Brandt Purvis and defensive end Dan Wasson. Purvis is 6 feet 2, 350 pounds.
"We're going to surprise some people," Buckwalter said. "But we're not going to surprise me."
Potomac Takes Offensive
Speedy running back Rico Lloyd was quite the midseason acquisition for Potomac last fall. The Panthers accepted the Georgia transfer with open arms, one of which they used to tuck the ball into his gut.
Potomac has Lloyd, the Virginia AAA state outdoor 200-meter champion, from the get-go this season. One of Lloyd's track teammates, Damien Johnson, also is playing football for the first time since middle school.
Throw in California transfer wide receiver Terran Williams, a 6-foot-2, 185-pounder, and returning quarterback John Dominguez, and the Panthers appear formidable offensively.
"We have a great deal of speed," said first-year Coach Keith King, the team's defensive coordinator the past two seasons. "Our problem is that we're very, very young."
In fact, the Panthers are so young that King figures to return about nine starters on offense and defense next year.
Potomac may have been fortunate to get transfers Lloyd and Williams, but the Panthers have lost transfers as well. Jeremy Wyche, named last year to the all-Cardinal District first team at defensive tackle and second team at offensive tackle, has transferred to Paul VI. Two-year starting lineman Dennis Reaves transferred to Gar-Field.
"We're small, but this is one of the best groups to work with," King said. "Every kid out there is a 'Yes sir, no sir' type of person to every coach."
Coach vs. Son
Osbourn Park Coach Mike Feldman could find himself in a strange position Sept. 24: He'll be coaching against his son, Drew, a junior defensive back/wide receiver at Hylton. The Feldmans live in the Hylton district.
Attending Hylton "was best for him academically, socially and athletically," the coach said. "His friends go there. We moved in the middle of middle school, and that was a tough adjustment. It's better for him to go there, where he doesn't have to wait around for rides."
The elder Feldman said he and his son don't talk much football at home, though some teasing might ensue the week of the Hylton-Osbourn Park game.
"Believe me," Feldman said, "we'll be more worried about [quarterback] Kenny Irby and [running back] D.J. Walton than Drew Feldman."
CAPTION: Andy Friend is on the run for Yellow Jackets, whose coach had his players pass mandatory physicals in order to play this season.
CAPTION: Osbourn Park Coach Mike Feldman this season will coach against son Drew, a junior defensive back/wide receiver who attends Hylton High School.