The Sylvan Hills Bears, as is everyone else, are finally in the midst of a routine.
"It finally got here," Bears head coach Jim Withrow said. "I didn’t know if they held them anymore."
Labor Day was an off day for the Bears; a fact that Withrow said doesn’t adversely affect the routine for the next 10 weeks.
"Monday is normally film day anyway," Withrow said, "and lift day, a walk through day and a fundamental day. It’s what we’ve been doing anyway."
Friday is game one at Vilonia and Withrow said they’re a good team to start with.
"They are a solid team," Withrow said. "I think being in that conference (5A-West) week in and week out makes anybody better."
"It’s a very good test for us. They are going to go out and block well, and tackle well, and aren’t going to make a ton of mistakes."
The Eagles are a 40-front defensive base though they run multiple looks. On offense, they are predominantly spread sans short yardage situation.
Withrow says their strength is likely precision.
"They run their routes well," Withrow said. "When they get going, they look like a Tony Franklin offensive team, and they run it well."
Withrow compared Vilonia’s receivers to his own Nathan Thomas.
"That’s what he does for us," Withrow said. "He runs good routes, and he makes a lot of plays for us."
The Bears suffered a 7-0 rain soaked loss to the Eagles at home in 2012 in a game that no one could get anything consistently going on offense.
"The weather was tough," Withrow said, "but they had the same problems we did, but they just handled it better than we did."
Withrow said the lesson in last year’s game was if a team is to excel, they have to adapt.
"If you are going to be a good team, you have to be good in anything," Withrow said.
The Bears are more mature and should be a more mentally prepared team going into their first test of the season.
"We still have to make plays," Withrow said. "We still have to execute and execute better than we have."
Though he was pleased with their scrimmage work against Pulaski Robinson, Withrow acknowledged as all coaches do in lieu of the first game that his team "has a long way to go".
The trip to Vilonia should be a good test for the Bears. The first step to a better season than 2012 is a better start than 2012. That chance happens Friday.