The perception of the 2021 football campaign for Greenbrier West is truly a glass half empty or glass half full situation.
Loaded with new faces after being hit hard by graduation, the Cavaliers made the state football playoffs, but were still left wondering what might have been.
Six wins against four setbacks left Greenbrier West rated No. 13 in Class A and sent them to Williamstown where the Cavs bowed out in round one of the playoffs.
The tough part to swallow for the Cavaliers and the “Charmco Crazies” was the fact that of those four losses, three could have gone the other way.
During the 2021 season, the Greenbrier West offense piled up over 3,600 yards and scored 44 touchdowns.
However, the problem area all season, and especially in those crucial losses, was turnovers. In 10 regular season games the Cavaliers turned the ball over 27 times.
“We started with 18 new positions out there, so we were trying to be patient with them and hoping we would win enough games to get in the playoffs,” Greenbrier West head coach Toby Harris said. “Actually, if we had played well, we had an good opportunity to win another three games. We just turned the football over at the wrong times and didn’t make the plays that we had too. We were right in games that we should have won.”
A one-point overtime loss at Buffalo to start the season left the Cavaliers highly frustrated after five turnovers sealed their fate.
The highly anticipated showdown with James Monroe in Charmco slipped away as the result of a pair of fumbles, two interceptions and costly penalty late in the game.
Five turnovers were also part of a four-point loss to Mount View in the final regular season game.
Harris is hoping the turnover woes are behind his time as it prepares for the 2022 season.
“We have a lot of guys that got on the field last year and gained a lot of experience. Now, we didn’t win as many games as we could have, but we are ready to forget the past and start over,” Harris said. “We feel like our skill people this year are ahead of last years skill people. We will be a little bit small on the line, but they have playing experience.”
Although Greenbrier West will return plenty of experience, the Cavaliers will still be rather young according to the veteran coach.
“We are probably going to only play three seniors,” Harris said. “Those seniors will man-up six of the positions and they are pretty good football players, but we are still going to be very young. The key for us is our skill people are pretty good and our quarterback has experience. If our line comes through, even though they are small, we have a chance to be pretty good.”
Ty Nickell is back to anchor the rushing attack and Cole Vandall will handle the signal calling duties.
Nickell ran for over 1,400 yards last year, while Vandall combined his passing and running abilities to garner nearly 1,200 yards.
“Ty is bigger than he was last year and our quarterback is bigger. We hope we can run the football, but we have to throw the ball too,” Harris said. “We are working on pass offense and pass defense during the summer. We are lifting and working on conditioning with our interior people. We are also out here throwing the ball a lot and trying to get some rhythm with our receivers.”
With all of the firepower that West brings back, expectations are sure to follow.
“I am sure there is some expectations with this group, but I am not sure people realize we were playing 9th and 10th graders last year. We had two ninth graders on the field up at Williamstown and three sophomores in the line and they were small,” Harris said. “We may still be a year away from being as good as we are going to be, but this can still be a really good year.”
West will open the season with some payback in mind when it welcomes Buffalo to Charmco Aug. 26.