Note: Cyprus finished with a 3-7 overall record in 2013 and was sixth in Region 6 with a 1-5 record. It did not qualify for the 4A playoffs.
MAGNA — As the Cyprus football team prepares for the 2014 season, head coach Scott Wooldridge is putting an extra emphasis on the Pirates’ ability to compete.
“I always tell them,” the coach said, “’If you can compete, you have the opportunity to win. If you can’t compete, we don’t have that opportunity.’”
In a league with teams as dominant as those at the top of Region 6, learning to compete — both in game scenarios and away from the sport entirely — is a way to survive.
“This week we have ‘crew week’ — we’re Pirates, so we have crews — and each crew competes against each other in weightlifting and running and all kinds of drills,” Wooldridge said. “That’s what we’re trying to breed in them: compete. Compete on the field; compete in the weight room; compete in the classroom; and compete in life.
“Life, I think, is kind of a competition, so we’re trying to get them to understand you can’t just be where you’re at. Always try to be better.”
And in recent years, the Pirates have proved, even if only to themselves, that they can in fact compete.
“Last year, playing East, we proved we could play with them in the first quarter, honestly, because we had the lead,” Wooldridge said, referencing the game in which his team scored the first 14 points before ultimately losing 76-28.
“What it did for our kids was it proved that they can play. They can play with those teams,” he said. “Then our numbers got us. It’s a game of numbers in football. They (East) can platoon it somewhat. Ours, they’re going from offense to defense to special teams, all playing the same thing.”
This season, Cyprus has 30 players on its varsity roster. It is the lowest number Wooldridge has had in his three years at the school.
“My first year we had good numbers,” the coach said. “My second year we had good numbers. And then, this year, the numbers are a little down from what they have been.”
Part of that has to do with school size and natural growth cycles. Part of that has to do with bridging the gap between youth programs and the high school team. Part of that has to do with Wooldridge and his coaching staff working to mirror what highly successful teams in their region have done.
“We have our ninth-graders and sophomores playing together,” he said. “East and Highland and a lot of those schools have gone to their ninth-graders playing sophomore football and sophomores playing JV football. That’s where we’re trying to go, but it hasn’t quite caught on yet. It’s a building process.”
For the season at hand, the Pirates are focusing on utilizing their competitive edge, battling each game in a very deep region, and improving every day.
“They’re a good group. The kids we have work hard, and kids at Cyprus always work hard,” Wooldridge said. “They have an attitude that they want to compete. They won’t give up.”
Cyprus Pirates at a glance
Coach: Scott Wooldridge is entering his third season at the Cyprus head coach, where he has accumulated a career record of 8-12. Wooldridge is a graduate of Western Oregon University.
(7 returning starters; Pistol)