Chance to run program lures Wood back to Bowie

August 17, 1993|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Staff Writer

Ever since Sherman Wood got his first taste of coaching college football, he has longed to run a program. But he didn't think he would get a chance this quickly.

Seven years ago, Wood joined the Bowie State football staff as a gradu- ate assistant. It marked the beginning of a six-year stint, during which the Bulldogs went to extremes. They failed to win a game for the third straight time in 1986, completed a 30-game losing streak in 1987, then rebounded to win 16 games over the next two seasons.

A year after leaving Bowie for a defensive coaching job at Virginia Union, Wood, 32, has fulfilled his dream by returning to the Bulldogs.

"The main thing that lured me back to Bowie State was the growth opportunity, the potential. We're sitting on a gold mine here," Wood said yesterday at Bowie's annual press day. "One way or another, we're going to make history at Bowie."

After success in the late 1980s, Bowie tumbled to the bottom of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association. And after three straight losing seasons, including last year's 1-10 showing, four-year coach Sanders Shiver resigned.

Last season, Wood was getting unexpected, on-the-job training as a head coach at Virginia Union. Three games into the season, coach Mel Rose was fired. That left the interim, co-coaching job to Wood and Larry Archie.

They led VU to a 3-5-1 finish. Under Wood and Archie, the Panthers were 3-3. One of those victories was a 26-6 win over Bowie.

After that season, Wood began looking for more opportunities. Then, last spring, Shiver resigned.

"I was going through all of the researching and everything, and this [Shivers' resignation] just happened. It came as a complete surprise to me," said Wood, who hired Archie as his offensive coordinator. "I had been a No. 1 assistant for five years. A lot of people thought I was overdue. I just didn't expect it to happen this soon."

Wood, who was an All-America defensive back in 1983 at Salisbury State, is no stranger to the majority of the Bulldogs. His familiarity with the program made his decision easier.

"Everybody missed him when he left. When he coached the defensive backs, we were in top shape, and not too many passes were completed against us," said junior defensive back Dwayne Zackery, one of the most promising returning players.

"Coach Wood is a great motivator. You can go in his office and talk to him about a problem any time. You can already see the enthusiasm in everybody. Just having him back here is great."

Wood has much to do, and his priority is resurrecting the offense. The Bulldogs averaged 10.9 points and four turnovers and gained 2.8 yards per play last year. Bowie completed 21.6 percent of its passes.

Six quarterbacks are competing for the starting job, with no clear leaders. The offensive line has no returning starters.

Wood says he will scrap the run-oriented offense and promises a more balanced attack, with the emphasis on multiple formations such as the pro set and the run-and-shoot.

Defensively, the Bulldogs return seven starters, including lineman Tracy Ledbetter and back Gary Beckford, who made the all-CIAA second team. Zackery was named to the first team as a kick returner.

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