Westside football will take a more balanced approach this year.
The Renegades put up big numbers last year on offense, reaching the state semis with a pass-oriented attack and winning 10 games.
“When we got to Frankfort (in the semis), we found we didn’t really have a running game,” said head coach Larry Cook.
“We’ll still use the five-wide receiver set (at times),” he commented. “We’re going to be running more with a flexbone offense, with the veer and option. It is similar to Georgia Tech’s offense.”
This time around, a big, experienced O-line and a strong defense are expected to carry the team.
“We’re real happy with how practice is going,” stated the coach. “The chemistry is starting to pick up.
“This year, we’ll be more balanced,” he said.
Westside beat Woodrow Wilson in a summer 7-on-7 match up, a sign that the team is going in the right direction.
Senior quarterback Larry “Lil Larry” Cook will be guiding the offense.
He started five games as a sophomore when Justin Cogar was injured.
“He’s one of the smartest players I’ve ever had, and his arm strength has improved tremendously,” Cook stated.
Frank Sammons, who started on defense last year, will be the halfback. “He works hard in the weight room,” the coach noted.
Fullback Trevor Anderson “is learning to see the hole and read the hole.”
Josh Morgan, whom Cook calls “an extremely tough kid,” will also get carries.
“He’s one of the hardest workers on the team,” the coach observed.
He says center Andrew Rollins, a returning starter, “had a great off-season.”
Left guard Steve Hammonds “moves exceptionally well for his size.”
Grayson Hatfield is the left tackle is a two-year starter and, Cook saysm,”a smart kid.”
Bryce Nelson is the right guard and Ben Price is the right tackles.
“Four of the five (on the line) are returning starters,” Cook remarked.
Wide receivers are Isaiah Lester (“quick, slithery”) and Jacob Ellis (“works extremely hard and probably the best receiver on the team.”)
The defense will go 4-3 this year
Ralph Wilson (6-5, 280 junior ) is the nose guard.
Nelson and Rollins are the defensive tackles. “Both have good size,” Cook said.
Hammonds is a defensive end.
Linebackers are Hatfield, Price and Cook (third on the team in tackles last year).
Dalton Dixon is one corner, and either Sammons or Broc Smith will be the other.
Cook said “Broc is going to play a lot for us.”
Safeties are Morgan, Jacob Daugherty and Jacob Stafford.
Stafford will also be the punter. “He’s really put a lot of effort into punting and has attended several kicking camps,” Cook said.
Morgan and Tyler Goodwin are the kick returners.
Strength will be Westside’s strength.
In the off-season, Cook said, “we had 20-25 kids consistently in the weight room. They hate to miss workouts.”
The Renegades also have depth, and the coach says the team is two-deep at every position. “That’s a big thing in AA,” he pointed out.
Most of his team is made up of juniors and sophomores.
“We like where we are now and in the future,” said Cook.
The Renegades are aiming at another playoff run.
“We’re looking for 7-3 8-2, maybe a getting a home game in the playoffs,” stated Cook. “We want to make another deep run.”
The schedule is much the same as last year. Mingo Central was moved to Week 11.
He says he wants to establish the program as a regular post-season participant.
Cook praised his coaching staff, some of whom are volunteers. “They love kids and the sport,” he remarked.
John Conley can be reached at 304-732-6060 or on [email protected]