For many college athletes entering their senior season, the countdown begins for their final time out on the field/court.
The countdown has begun for BHSU senior linebacker Jarrell Ganaway.
That thought hit Ganaway after the annual Green-White Spring Game Saturday at Lyle Hare Stadium in Spearfish. He told his teammates in the team huddle that it was his last spring game, and what his time with them meant to him.
He told them to take in every moment …. even a spring game.
“I have to give thanks for every opportunity I have to step out on the field … and give thanks every time I step off of the field uninjured or just with bumps and bruises,” he said. “Football is a dangerous game, so every time you step out on the field, it could be your last, so I just have to give thanks and leave everything I have out on the field. No more football is guaranteed after this.”
One of the more athletic linebackers in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, the 6-foot-5, 242-pound Ganaway said that not only was it his final spring in the program, but it was a good spring and maybe even a different spring than in the past.
Defensively, the Jackets will again need to improve considerably in the offensive-heavy RMAC. Two years ago in the 7-4 comeback season, the Jackets had one of the top opportunistic defenses in the league and were among the top teams in the country in takeaways.
That didn’t happen last season, as they gave up an average of 37 points a game in the 3-8 campaign.
Ganaway said their defense last fall was trying to find its identity, and he feels that is where much of their problems stemmed from.
This spring he said they knew what they were getting into when they came in, they knew where they were all going to be at and what roles they were going to play.
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Now it is all about playing fast and physical, he said.
“We have to play fast, we have to play physical,” Ganaway said slapping his hands together on fast and physical. “Regardless of the scheme and who is where, if you play fast and physical, good things will happen. Turnovers will happen and stops on third down will happen. That is our goal on defense.”
Saturday’s spring game was a little in doubt earlier in the week because of the heavy snowstorm. Instead of removing the snow on the entire field, school personnel elected to remove the snow on just half of the field, which gave it somewhat of an arena football look outside.
It was perfect for the BHSU defense, as it was forced to start each position on the other side of the field (45-yard line). Each defense gave up just one touchdown in the game-like conditions.
“As a defense, we were having a great spring. As time keeps going on, we keep getting our good stops,” Ganaway said. “Sometimes you have to have a handicap put against you, sometimes you have to play against the short side of the field. If you train for the worst, and we start on the 25-yard line, we have already trained to be better than that, so we keep the momentum going from there.”
For Ganaway and the BHSU seniors to close their careers on a positive note, they’ll have to improve dramatically from last year’s disappointing season. Ganaway said they can’t go backwards this summer.
“All we can do is take the summer by the horns and work as hard as we can, give thanks for every chance we get to work, and come back in the fall and it is game-time from there,” he said.
One final spring is in the books, and now it is one more summer of workouts and one more fall season.
The countdown continues for all seniors.
“I’m at a loss for words right now,” Ganaway said. “It was my last chance to play ball in the spring with my family. I just really give thanks for every chance I get."