By KEVIN HARRIS
Providence football coach Larry Denison hopes his team’s work ethic during the summer along with its overall experience will help turn around a 3-7 record from a year ago.
“It’s one of the hardest-working groups we’ve had,” Denison said. “We’re stronger and more athletic.”
The Pioneers have spent the majority of the summer concentrating on strength and conditioning.
On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings each week during the summer, they have been participating in a weightlifting and running program. Denison thinks the training has made his players stronger and quicker.
“Our lifting has stepped up this summer,” Denison said. “The weightlifting and speed training have definitely helped them.”
Denison says the players have liked the program’s schedule, which has given them a four-day weekend each week.
“It has given them some long weekends. We don’t want to get the kids too burned out on football,” Denison said.
Recently, the Pioneers participated in four 7-on-7 scrimmages at West Washington, where they posted a 2-2 record. Denison said the results of the scrimmages were mixed.
“We saw some good things and saw some bad things,” Denison said.
Providence will not lack experience in the 2013 campaign. The Pioneers will have more than 20 seniors on their roster and return 18 starters.
“We’re definitely going to be an older team and I think we’ll be a better team,” Denison said. “We want to be a pretty good team by the time the playoffs roll around.”
• Departures: TE/DE Cory Cecil, RB/DB Erron Hickerson, LB Ryan Pickerrell, OL/DL T.J. Hutt, OL/DL Cameron Mitchell, OL/DT Daniel Fernandez.
• Key returning players: RB/DB Owen Mattingly (Sr.), P Garrett Braun (Sr.), RB/LB Matt Bell (Jr.), OL/DL Tony Corrao (Sr.), WR/DB Dorian Noel (Sr.), QB/DB Nathan Banet (Sr.).
• 2012 recap: The Pioneers got off to an impressive start by winning two of their first three games. One of those victories came at Murphy Stadium against archrival Floyd Central, 27-19. But injuries hampered Providence the rest of the season as it lost six of its final seven games to finish 3-7. It was the Pioneers’ first losing season since 2006. The Pioneers’ season came to an end in the first round of Class 2A Sectional 31 in a 40-0 setback at Paoli.
• 2013 expectations: Providence will be more experienced as it has 18 returning starters and more than 20 seniors on their roster. Third-year Pioneers’ coach Larry Denison will look to Mattingly and Banet for production and leadership on offense. Denison says his players are stronger and quicker because of their weightlifting and running program this summer. But one of the critical factors for Providence in 2013 will be to stay injury-free and not repeat last year’s rash of ailments.