Injury ends El Campo's good spring badly


May 27, 2010 at 12:27 a.m.

EL CAMPO -- Stephen Anderson is one of Lisa Gillis' favorite students.

Gillis taught Anderson in sixth-grade gifted and talented reading and has been his counselor since he's been in high school.

But El Campo head football coach Bob Gillis had some bad news for his wife when he called her Thursday evening after the Ricebirds' spring game.

Anderson injured his ankle on the final play of the scrimmage. Anderson, who will be a senior in the upcoming school year, was playing guard and got caught up in a pile of players. He was taken for X-rays after his teammates lined up to wish him the best.

The sight of an ambulance at Ricebird Stadium was not the way Gillis wanted to wrap up what had been a successful three weeks of practices and a well-played spring game.

"We had a great spring training," Gillis said. "It's always hard to go against each other for 15 practices. Scrimmage-wise the kids got after it. Everything was great until the injury. Stephen is such a wonderful kid and he's worked so hard to get where he is. Hopefully, the injury won't be so bad and he can get back."

The Ricebirds divided equally into Red and White teams and played to a 14-14 tie on one of the hottest days of the spring.

The White scored first on a touchdown pass from Cullen Schoener to A.J. Owens, and again on a run by Deandre Pratt. The Red came back on a touchdown run by Devin Parks, and a touchdown pass from Trey Krpec to Bryan Spraks. Devan Luedecke kicked all four extra points.

"We had a new defensive tackle and two new linebackers," Gillis said of the defense, which was without safety De'vonte Wells, who suffered a hamstring injury running track, and tackle Clark Kyle, who had a broken nose, and missed most of spring drills. "I think our linebackers learned to run and make plays and our secondary is going to be OK. I think the defense ran and tackled and got after it pretty good."

The Ricebirds are likely to be much quicker on defense in the upcoming season.

"We're going to have a lot of speed on defense," said defensive tackle Joey Hunt. "We got to see what we're like. We learned a lot in three weeks. I worked a lot on my technique, staying low and using my hands a lot more. Not messing with the defender, finding the ball and making plays.

"We have a better view of where we're going to be next year. Everybody will be set."

Gillis was encouraged by the improvement made by the offensive line, which bodes well for a team with an abundance of talented running backs.

"Our line isn't big but they improved their toughness and quickness on the field," Parks said. "We're going to come back strong. Running and passing - we're going to bring both of them this year."

The Ricebirds are looking forward to next season and hope Anderson is back on the field.

"You don't want anybody to get hurt," Gillis said. "But we'll trade 15 practices for a week any day."



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