The Bottom Line
By Bill Nestor
With the start of high school football practice comes high hopes and optimism for Harrison County’s football teams. The eight month drought is finally over for players and fans alike.
A clean slate and a fresh start allow every team to set lofty goals. The playoffs are always tops on every team’s list and every one of the six county schools has legitimate chance of finding the second season.
There is indeed strength in numbers and county programs started with approximately 40 players. Bridgeport and South Harrison are a little higher and some point to their respective successes as the explanation.
The Indians are coming off of a third consecutive Class AA state championship season. Winning is contagious and the Tribe has caught the bug, including freshmen. Bridgeport had a shade over 60 players on the gridiron. Head Coach Josh Nicewarner took over the reins to one of the most consistent football programs in state history and took it to an unprecedented level. I don’t think that he receives enough credit for what he has accomplished at his alma mater and when he is done coaching he will be mentioned as one of the best that the area has ever seen. The numbers are already pointing that way.
In Lost Creek, near 50 kids showed up following last year’s 10-2 effort that propelled the Hawks to the Class A quarterfinals. Another motivator for youngsters that goes hand in hand with success is tradition.
Children grow up in a community idolizing players that everyone is talking about. “Hawk Pride” is very much alive and it fuels South Harrison High School. I experienced it twice last year as I had the opportunity to broadcast a pair of games at Gary Barnette Field. That pride is instilled by legendary Head Coach Brad Jett. Jett has retired from teaching and is focusing primarily on coaching which is not good for South Harrison’s opponents.
In Shinnston, there were just under 40 players out for the start of the year. The Cougars jumped out to a terrific start a year ago and I believe it had a lot to do with coaching. Lincoln Head Coach Rob Hawkins took advantage of a great pre season in 2015. Hawkins hopes for more of the same and his team will be prepared for additional success this season.
At Robert C. Byrd Bryan Fisher stepped down, paving the way for former Flying Eagle Head Coach Josh Gorrell to step back into this familiar role. Gorrell was in charge in 2010 and 2011. Gorrell has 40 in camp and he is very in tune with this group as he was an assistant on Fisher’s staff last year.
Liberty has 45 out following a 6-4 mark from 2015. A.J. Harman is entering his third year at his alma mater and has brought back a sense of pride to the program. The Mountaineers have settled into their facilities nicely and ever since they received their “new digs” a few years ago, things have blossomed.
Notre Dame Head Man Sam Alvaro and Eric Clapton have one thing in common – “after midnight they are going to let it all hand out”. Alvaro decided to get a jump on the competition by practicing at midnight. The Fighting Irish had 22 in camp but Alvaro has always been able to get the most out of his players; look for that trend to continue in 2016.
That will do it for now. Until next week…take care and God Bless!