Football is back for spring camp

By Kyle Inman

April 3, 2012

Missouri Western football is back on the field for spring camp which consists of 15 practices over a four-week time span. “I don't know that there's things we want to get accomplished, but we get 15 opportunities to practice football, and everyday we go out there we want to be as good and as sharp as we can be," coach Jerry Partridge said. The Griffons return a plethora of experience on both sides of the ball from last season's 9-3 playoff team. “We've always had guys coming back; I think our program is built that way where we generally have a lot of guys back,” Partridge said. "At least half our starters are back every year it seems like, but there's a unique amount this time.” Western returns senior running back Michael Hill, who was the featured ball carrier last season rushing for 1,384 yards with a 4.8 yards-per carry average and eight touchdowns. Despite his success, Hill treats spring practices like he has a spot to earn. “There's always room to get better, and that's what I try to do every time I go out there,” Hill said. “It doesn't matter that I started last year, my spot can get taken. We have a lot of good backs.” The Griffons return junior quarterback Travis Partridge, who now has a full season as a starter under his belt. This is a luxury that coach Partridge didn't have at this time last season when the spot was vacant. “Last year was an aberration in that category,” coach Partridge said. “A lot of times we have had kids that have started multiple years in their career, so last year was a weird spring not having a starting quarterback returning.” Partridge threw for 1,697 yards and 17 touchdowns with 11 interceptions last season and did major damage on the ground, rushing for 731 yards and eight touchdowns. The offensive line returns seven seniors and, according to coach Partridge, any position is open for competition. Spring practices are a little different for the heavy hitters on the defensive side of the ball. “We don't go real live and physical,” coach Partridge said. “We call it thud which is contact, but we don't take people to the ground and finish off.” The defensive line features David Bass and Ben Pister, who combined for 23 sacks last season. Safety Shane Simpson is back after interception five passes last season, but coach Partridge will be looking to fill the other safety spot that opened up with the graduation of Jack Long. There's a competition to see who replaces NFL-bound All-American kicker Greg Zuerlein between Taylor Anderson and John Schmiemeier. “It's exciting to get back out here I've been ready for it for a long time now,” Hill said. “It's important for us to get more chemistry, we just have to be more united. Nothing is going to be handed to us because we are all back.”