Thursday evening veteran Nicholas County head football coach Gene Morris was all smiles standing on the new turf at Memorial Stadium
Morris has long said when he no longer enjoyed coaching football, it would be time to to do something else.
That time is clearly not at hand just yet.
Concluding their summer three week period with a 7-on-7 workout with Greenbrier West and Pocahontas County, Morris witnessed plenty to smile about from his team.
Both of his senior quarterbacks, Brycen Morriston and Dawson Brown worked with razor-sharp precision. Senior wideout Wes Hill was nearly impossible to guard and on defense the Grizzlies did a nice job of hauling in passes from the opposing quarterbacks.
Not to mention the designed workout did not highlight the running game where senior Kaleb Clark will be back to give defensive coordinators more nightmares.
It may have been a summer workout, but Nicholas County played with a purpose.
“That group has paid their dues. A lot of them started as sophomores and took some lumps, but they stayed with it and worked hard in the offseason,” Morris said. “It made them a little more hungry after that sophomore season. It is a good, athletically skilled group and they want to win. They hang together and they work together. It is a throwback type group.”
Morriston and Brown shared the quarterbacking duties last year before Brown went down with a season-ending shoulder injury in game four.
Morris is excited to have both signal callers back and healthy this season.
“Both have a good skill set athletically and both of them bring different things to the table,” Morris said. “It gives you the ability to do a lot of things and gives you two types of offenses. It really helps with the offensive preparation.”
Adding to the excitement for the veteran coach is how both quarterbacks approached off-season workouts and their willingness to put the team first.
“They both have gotten better at their deficiencies from last year,” Morris said. “They both have improved throughout the off-season and this practice tonight shows that they have worked at it.”
“The best thing about it is, their loudest cheerleader is the quarterback that is not in,” Morris said, smiling. “It is not one of those things where they want the other guy to make a mistake, so they can get in. They don’t have a hidden agenda, they want the team to be successful.”
While his summer workouts are a little more laidback, Morris does have some specific goals for his team.
“For the younger groups coming in, it is to help them understand the language. I think that is really important in summer practices. You can also get the sophomores that are coming back in there and have them get a better understanding,” Morris said. “When you have a good nucleus coming back like this, then you can add a few things and change a few things because you got to see what worked and worked well. You can polish that and eliminate the deficiencies.”
The returning nucleus will likely have some expectations attached to them after making the playoffs last year. While some coaches may down play those expectations, Morris embraces them.
“Everybody should have those expectations,” Morris said. “You come out on Friday night and you are going to try your best to win. If you don’t have those expectations of trying to be as successful as possible, you may be in the wrong business.”
“They have all been friends since Little League and there has been a lot of community involvement.” Morris went on to say. “I think it is important that they do that and it keeps the chemistry there. When you have that type of chemistry, you are not playing for yourself, you are playing for your friends and the community.”
Nicholas County opens the season at Memorial Stadium against Oak Hill.