High school football season in West Virginia opened on Monday and the Warriors got hard to work at their practice facility at Warrior Field. Players lifted weights in the morning and coaches ran the team through grass drills in the afternoon.
Head coach Doug Burns, in his second year as the Warriors’ chief, began the process of evaluating talent and assigning players to key positions. Burns said his team is somewhat wet behind the ears.
“We’re extremely young,” he said. “We’ve got four seniors and five juniors on the team this year. We’re going to be counting on some sophomores stepping in and maybe even some freshmen stepping in and playing on Friday nights for us.”
Burns said his upperclassmen show a strong commitment to the team.
“It’s early, it’s our first day together, we’re just getting them started today,” said the coach. “I feel like there’s going to be some great chemistry and teamwork there. We get a lot of positive reinforcement from these older guys, trying to help the younger guys. I like the way they’re gelling early. That’s going to be the key for us.”
The coaching staff has several key positions to fill during the three weeks before the start of the season. The graduation of last year’s starting QB opened up a contest for the starting spot behind center.
“There is a lot of competition for that position,” said Burns. “Everybody wants to be the quarterback and we have to decide who that’s going to be in the next couple weeks. We’ve got a couple scrimmages coming up rather quickly, so we’ll be able to determine number one and number two pretty quickly.”
Top contenders for starting QB include sophomores Wyatt Workman and Morgan Mason, and juniors J.D. Hensler and Dalton Irvine.
Senior Jimmy Campbell, Hensler and junior Cade Walker are the top contenders for starting tailback, but the coach has several prospects for running the ball.
“We’ve got some other younger guys who we’re definitely going to be taking a look at, here in the next few weeks,” said Burns. “So, it’ll be interesting to see who steps up and plays that tailback position. Right now, I think it’s probably going to be tailback by committee. We’ve got three or four guys that we need to get in the ballgame and get the ball in their hands, because we’ve got some kids who can do it.”
The Warriors are fortunate to have four talented returning linemen, including senior All-Conference tackle Chad Burns, senior guard Nash Rose, senior Travis Taylor and sophomore Danny Kimble. But the position at center remains to be filled.
“We’re going to have to find a younger center and probably four or five linemen that we need to find in the next few weeks,” said Burns. “Justin Hendrick is coming in. He’ll be a sophomore. He’s played center before on the junior high level and a little bit last year on the JV team. I hope that he’ll step up and fill that role.”
Rose said he takes his leadership responsibility seriously.
“When the younger guys are on the field, I see that they’re ready to go and they always give 110 percent,” he said.
Coach’s son Chad Burns said his dad treats everyone the same.
“I like having my dad for a coach,” he said. “He treats me about the same as everybody else. I might get criticized a little bit more than the other players.”
In a major rebuilding season, the Warriors did well to finish 4-6 last year. Chad Burns is optimistic the team will improve this year.
“I think we’re going to do really good this year,” he said. “We should definitely make the playoffs and definitely be a lot better this year. We’ve got a good group of guys and we all get along pretty good and it ought to be a good season.”
Campbell, who showed flashes of brilliance running the ball last season, said football is not about individual glory.
“It’s a team effort,” he said. “Everybody’s got to play their best. Everybody’s got to be there.”
The Warriors open their season with a road game at always-tough Tucker County on August 29. All Warrior fans should be there.