Practices kick start 2009 sports season

Coming off a 6-5 season and playoff berth, Houston Tigers football coach Chris Edwards expected to have a big turnout this year.

The opposite happened.

Despite building positive momentum for a struggling program that dropped 21 consecutive games before the 2008 season, only 35 players showed up for Monday’s season-opening practice.

Edwards, beginning his third year with the Tigers, was shocked.

“It’s a curious situation,” Edwards said.

Monday was the first official day of practice for teams across the state. At Houston, the football, volleyball and softball teams all sprung into action.

Edwards said participation had been strong during the summer with the football program. But a few players within the past couple weeks decided not to play.

“We’ve lost some kids, and I’m not sure why,” Edwards said. “We still run our stuff. We have enough to do everything we need to do in practice. It’s a little discouraging, especially to have the turnaround we had last year – to make the playoffs and still struggle to get kids out to play.”

Edwards, who held a team camp just two weeks ago, said the Tigers are spending most of their time fine-tuning their offensive and defensive sets. Houston will again run a no-huddle, spread offense.

“We’re just trying to get better at what we do,” Edwards said. “We’ve got kids stepping into new positions, some first-year players that are learning things and young kids that have to play. It’s just getting those kids to play at a high level and understand what we’re doing.”

The Lady Tigers softball team moved to the fall for the first time this year after three seasons in the spring. The team is under the direction of first-year coach Willy Walker and assistant Jennifer McNiell.

There are 10 players on the inaugural fall team. The Lady Tigers will play their games on Carter Field for the first time instead of the adjacent Chamber Field. Walker said he made the move because the school owns the field.

Inside sweltering Hiett Gymnasium, the Lady Tigers volleyball team went through its second workout of the season Tuesday afternoon under veteran coach Debbie James. Nineteen players – three sitting out with injuries – are playing on this year’s team. Amber Honig, a three-year starter for the Lady Tigers, is the lone senior.

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