Injury bug depleting Saints' roster
By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on November 1, 2013 1:49 PM
DUDLEY -- It's a good thing Southern Wayne head football coach David Lee is a math teacher, too.
The Saints have had some trouble with numbers this season.
A growing list of injuries has left Southern Wayne without five of its starters, including two players who suffered anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries early in the season. Quarterback Jacob Hollingsworth injured his throwing arm in a loss at Charles B. Aycock on Oct. 4.
The Saints have just 26 players when everyone is healthy and dressed out. The lack of healthy bodies has made it difficult for Southern Wayne's first team offense and defense to take the practice field at the same time.
Saints' assistant coaches have had to fill in where they're needed during practice and Lee has had to limit tackling to individual drills.
"When you've only won two games all year and you think part of your problem is aggressiveness, you have to tackle," Lee said. "We practice against dummies and shells and we don't take running backs to the ground, but in individual drills we do get after it because you're going to play like you practice.
"Our issues with numbers is if a kid has a dental appointment or a test after school that leaves us even more short handed."
The Saints have several players who play every snap on offense and defense, and participate on the special teams unit. The task of playing 48 minutes week after week eventually takes its toll.
A grinding Eastern Carolina 3-A/4-A Conference schedule hasn't helped Southern Wayne, either. The Saints (2-7, 0-4) conclude a stretch of four consecutive games against 4-A opponents tonight at J.H. Rose.
Southern Wayne has shown flashes of being competitive against its 4-A opponents. The Saints kept their game with D.H. Conley close through two quarters before the Vikings pulled away. A week later, they moved inside South Central's 20-yard line on multiple occasions, but failed to capitalize.
"We've competed and had things go different ways," Lee said. "The issue comes down to numbers when you have 25 at practice versus 45 or 55. It's not an excuse. We have to load up with who we've got and practice hard and try to get a 'W'."
The Saints conclude their season at home next Friday against archrival Eastern Wayne, which has won two of the last three meetings. Each team is playing for a postseason berth.
"Eastern Wayne has been very competitive with the 4-A schools," Lee said. "We've got our work cut out for us there and that's a big game. That's our playoff livelihood."
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