TENNERTON – The Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School football team put the final touches on their second full week of practice as veteran head coach Dave Chipps welcomed 25 players to camp last Monday.
The low numbers will leave the Little Bucs without much depth for the upcoming season, but it’s nothing that Chipps hasn’t handled before as the team had 24 players last season and made it to the Mid-8 Conference championship game.
“We will have some depth at certain positions, but we are going to have to move some players around,” stated Chipps. “We are going to have to keep everyone healthy. That is why conditioning is so important.”
While numbers may prevent some problems, the size of the team won’t.
“We are small in numbers but we are big on size,” remarked Chipps. “We are 282 (pounds) and 253 at the tackles, 210 and 190 at the guards and about. 170 at center. We are going to be big again on the line like last year, but I think this group may be a little bit more athletic.”
With the Little Bucs wrapping up week two, Chipps has been pleased with what he has seen from his team.
“The kids have look good thus far,” noted Chipps. “I think we are ahead of schedule right now. I am pleased with their conditioning, their work ethic and they are great bunch of kids.”
Of the 25-man roster, the breakdown shows 13 eighth-graders, eight seventh-graders and four sixth-graders.
“We may be a bit younger than in most years,” noted Chipps.
Chipps said one of the key strengths of the team this season will be the offensive line and their size.
“We won’t have much depth on the line but we will have a strong line,” stated Chipps. “They will be blocking for an inexperienced group in the backfield. That being said, we have some athletes back there. We will have a quick backfield.”
The Little Bucs are dealing with guidelines put in place by the state during their practice sessions and Chipps has stated that his youngsters have handled that well.
“So far they have coped well with it,” said Chipps. “We have figured out ways for them to deal with it. It’s a different world for sure. I thought I had seen everything in football but not now.”
Joining Chipps on the sidelines again this season will be assistant coaches Jim Gregory, Sloan Baisden, Zack Flower and Gene Smithson.
The Little Bucs will open their season Thursday, Sept. 10 when they host Mountaineer Middle at 6:30 p.m.
“We are looking forward to get the season started,” Chipps concluded. “It’s been a great start to practice and it’s been a great group of kids to work with thus far.”