Summersville – Coaches have varying opinions on the voluntary three week period allocated to schools by the West Virginia Secondary Schools Athletic Commission.
Down in Charmco, the Greenbrier West football squad, for one, is looking to take full advantage of the early period.
“We lost a lot of really good seniors from last year’s team,” veteran head coach Toby Harris said. “We know we have two returning positions back on defense and two back on offense. We also have a player that started both ways for us last year, but we are not sure if he will be able to play this year. So, we are just about starting over on both sides of the ball.”
The seniors that graduated last year for the Cavaliers left an indelible mark on the program.
Rolling like a runaway locomotive through the competition in the regular season, the Cavaliers had their eyes fixed on winning a state title.
Unfortunately for Greenbrier West, the dream was derailed in an upset loss to Ritchie County in the quarterfinals of the playoffs.
“It was a good year with a lot of good kids. We were a lot more fortunate than most teams. We got eight ball games in before (Covid related) things hit us,” Harris said. “It just seemed to hit us at the wrong time. We missed the last two weeks of the season and didn’t have contact with the kids for those two weeks.”
“We did come back and play a pretty good game on that first Saturday of the playoffs. The kids played well and we were able to jump on them,” Harris continued. “After that game, the next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday it snowed and it was cold. I just don’t think we ever got back to where we were at the end of those initial eight weeks. We just weren’t as sharp.”
The highly successful veteran team will now be replaced by youth and inexperience this year.
“We have some really nice sophomores. Our JV squad was really good last year,” Harris said. “We will not have very many seniors in starting positions and we don’t even have a large junior class. We do think there is a lot of potential there, but we will be sophomore dominated.”
“I can’t really say they haven’ been on the field before because they got to play in some games where we got out to a big lead last year. Some of them were in games in the third quarter, so we are hoping that will help us.”
Last Thursday’s 7-on-7 competition at Nicholas County gave the West coaches an early look at their young team against the Grizzlies, Oak Hill, Midland Trail and Pocahontas County.
“I think the 7-on-7 overall may be better for your defense than your offense,” Harris said. “Of course, we are trying to find out who can catch and who can throw. However, this will teach us a lot on defense because we lost our entire secondary. This will help us find out who can play back there.”
Harris also had a keen eye on the quarterback position with all-stater Kaiden Pack being part of last year’s graduating class.
“We have two boys working at quarterback. One is a sophomore and one is a junior,” Harris said. “One started for us last year, but did not start at quarterback. This competition here helps us see what they can do.”
With so many new pieces, Harris is not sure at this point what the outlook for the Cavaliers will be this year. After back-to-back trips to the playoffs under Harris, making the postseason this year will be a challenge.
“We will take it week to week. The key to our season will be the first three ball games. Buffalo looks to be a really strong team. Summers County I am sure will have some enthusiasm and James Monroe is always tough. If we can come through that and win a couple ball games, we hopefully will have a good season. It is going to be a year of growing,” Harris said
“I think if we could get to the playoffs this year, that would exceed what people expect from us. If you would take a poll amongst our fans and opponents they would say we lost everybody and we won’t be very good. If we could come out and get to the playoffs, that would be a big success.”