WV spring: no Coady, no worries
Posted: Wednesday, May 16, 2012 12:00 pm
By MIKE HUTCHENS
Even with veteran head coach Don Coady missing much of the time, it was business as usual during Westview’s spring football drills.
Coady, who has had two back surgeries in the past, experienced more of those issues that kept him away from several Charger practices recently. He did attend his team’s first scrimmage at Liberty — maneuvering around on a golf cart — but was unable to see in person Westview’s workout against Dyer County Saturday that signaled the end of the allotted spring practice time.
In Coady’s absence, veteran assistant coach Trey Cantrell stepped up in the pecking order, and with also-experienced program aides Brian Allen, Burton Rutledge and Dan Scates, the Chargers barely skipped a beat.
“Coach Coady has always done a great job of overseeing the program, but also giving us responsibilities and making us accountable for them,” Cantrell said after the Chargers worked over two hours with DC Saturday at UT Martin’s Graham Stadium. “It’s not like we haven’t been in this situation before. A couple of years ago, he was sick during the regular season and missed a ton of practice time. As assistants who’ve been with the program and Coach Coady for a while now, we knew what we needed to do to get the kids ready to play. It wasn’t a lot different this spring.
“He just told us to take it and run with it. We did, and I felt like we got some things accomplished that we needed to.”
Among the “to-do” list coming into the spring, according to Cantrell, was find replacements for four offensive lineman starters who were seniors last fall — including two-time all-stater Damani Taylor. Sorting out the quarterback situation and identifying some players to help on a defense that needed both some new regulars in spots and depth was likewise on the agenda.
Cantrell said he could put a check-mark by each of those issues following Saturday’s scrimmage.
Senior-to-be Ryne Vinson, one of just two returning full-time starters from last year along with center Ryne Reynolds, made significant strides to keep his starting quarterback job, according to Cantrell.
The coach also lauded the spring efforts of lineman Ryan Austin, who didn’t play a year ago but could be effective on either side of the ball next fall. Andrew Chavis, a sophomore next year, showed signs of promise at the team’s critical fullback position, while Cantrell mentioned Ty Brown and Javier Gordon as receivers he saw with capabilities to help next season.
Another 10th-grader-to-be, Landon Pitcher, caught Cantrell’s eye at linebacker, and also in a back-up quarterback role after a good offseason of weight-lifting.
“We’re going to have to count on some different kids in the fall because of our graduation losses, and we’ve had some to step up,” the coach said. “I thought our overall effort was good, and you could tell we made some strides in our offseason program.
“We still have a ton to do, though.”
One familiar name from a year ago highlighted Saturday’s scrimmage as running back Quan Williams, who started in the secondary and got some carries as a backup running back, ripped off three touchdown runs — the longest 37 yards — as the feature back in the Chargers’ I-formation look.
Gordon caught a two-point conversion pass from Vinson after Westview’s first touchdown.
Dyer County outscored Westview four-touchdowns-to-three in the varsity portion of the scrimmage and had three scores to the Chargers’ two when the backups played.
Young Ladrell Starnes, a sophomore in the fall, had a handful of nice runs when the teams employed their reserves.
“We’re always going to be a ‘ground and pound’ football team, and I think the kids have bought into that. I think that really could be critical for us this fall because having those 10- and 12-play drives where you wear other teams down and keep their offense and our defense off the field can sometimes be as important as getting a three-and-out,” Cantrell concluded.
The Chargers will open their 2012 season with a Week 0 game vs. Weakley County rival Dresden, the Class 2A state runnerup a year ago. Published in The WCP 5.15.12