Culver likes what he saw in spring as Bobcats prepare for his second year

PHIL CAMBELL — The rebuilding process continues at Phil Campbell as second-year coach Bo Culver concluded spring practice last week with a 22-15 victory against Thaprtown.

The Bobcats, which had a 3-27 record from 2006 through 2008, matched that win total in Culver’s first season. Now he is looking at getting Phil Campbell back into the playoffs for the first time since 2005.

If last week’s spring game is any indication, the Bobcats have a good chance of reaching that goal despite losing five key seniors from last year’s squad.

“We’ve got a lot of young guys,” Culver said. “I’m proud of the effort they showed.”

The Bobcats held a big size advantage against Tharptown, but the offense struggled for most of the first half.

That was not completely unexpected as Phil Campbell was using a new quarterback, wide receivers and running back to replace last year’s seniors Jeff White, Matt Waid, Dillan Hamby and Dylan Kastberg.

The Bobcats did not pick up their first first down until 1:29 before halftime, but Phil Campbell took advantage of the moment and scored on a 7-yard pass to Craig Saint and added a 2-point conversion to take an 8-7 lead into halftime.

During the offensive struggles, the defense played well. It limited Tharptown to a few first downs and the Wildcats’ lone touchdown came on an incredible catch and run.

Both sides of the ball continued playing well in the second half to pull away.

Quarterback Cory Alexander scored on a run of more than 20 yards about three minutes into the third quarter to extend the lead.

“He is a big, tough kid with good arm strength,” Culver said. “He just hasn’t (played quarterback) a lot.”

Helping Alexander on the offense is Saint, who had several good runs last season at the running back position. Culver feels Saint, who will be a sophomore in the fall, has what it takes to be a great running back.

“He has got as good vision as anybody I have seen,” Culver said.

Jake Dill got the final Bobcat score of the night when he intercepted a Tharptown pass and returned it 13 yards for a touchdown to put Phil Campbell ahead 22-6.

The secondary gave up a few big passes in the fourth quarter to allow Tharptown to add another touchdown, but Phil Campbell’s defense stopped the Wildcats on their last possession to preserve the win.

On the defensive side of the ball the biggest loss is linebacker Seth Brown. Culver said Dalton Hamby has stepped up his play during the spring to provide Phil Campbell with a solid player at the mike linebacker position.

There is still quite a bit of work to be done at Phil Campbell to make the Bobcats contenders, but Culver said his team is working hard and last year’s success has created quite a bit of interest in the program.

The roster bloomed from a couple dozen players last season to 44 players this spring, including several former players who sat out last season.

So far, the work seems to be paying off for Phil Campbell.

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