Westside coach Steve Hibbitts unleashed his wrath at the end of Monday afternoon’s practice.
With the Patriots running 30-yard sprints, some players slowly jogged the final five yards. Hibbitts lit into the Patriots who didn’t hustle all the way.
“Don’t coast at the end,” Hibbitts said, “because you can’t.”
After getting off to a fast start last season, Westside lost its final five games, including a 57-0 first-round playoff loss at Vidalia. After going 5-6 with their first postseason appearance since 2005, the Patriots are back wanting more.
“After we made the playoffs, everybody got a little hungrier,” junior defensive tackle Mike Bell said. “We started working out a little harder. We push each other more. We tell each other not to cheat ourselves and try to go 100 percent all the time.”
Senior quarterback Jalen Lampkin added: “That was a big thing for us making the playoffs.” He added Westside is looking to compete for a region title and make another postseason appearance this time around.
Westside will try to continue its improvement under fourth-year coach Hibbitts, who has increased his win total from one to four to five in his tenure. Hibbitts will try to lead the Patriots to their first winning campaign in seven years. To do so, he’s hoping a few changes will make a difference.
Westside is switching from a Wing-T offense to a triple-option attack led by the speedy Lampkin (5-foot-9, 175 pounds). Hibbitts said he made the change because opponents last year were stacking the line of scrimmage.
“I’m trying to neutralize a lot of that,” he said. “I want teams to play us honest. Last year, they really didn’t have to.”
Westside should have plenty of offensive weapons. The Patriots return senior running back DeMarcus Vaughn, who rushed for 201 yards against Dublin last season. Also in the backfield, junior fullback John Freeman (5-9, 205) is expected to get more carries. Sophomore Aaron Cummings and junior Demetris Spearman also will see time at fullback.
On defense, the Patriots will go with a 3-4 set led by senior end David Hunter and junior tackles Bell and Elleczar Newsome (6-3, 230). Hibbitts said Newsome is the strongest player on the team, bench pressing 330 pounds.
With the size up front, Hibbitts added his linebackers and secondary are getting stronger and faster.
“Defense is about getting to the ball,” Hibbitts said. “We haven’t been good about doing that the past few years.”