Numbers not dampening Webb outlook

Aug. 10, 2014 @ 12:33 AM

Fall football is in session for J.F. Webb and Tony Midgette, who last week started his second season as head coach.

Numbers are down for the Warriors, who finished 3-8 last season, but optimism is high for a squad loaded with juniors.

“We’re very slim in numbers, but it’s really from our younger group,” said Midgette. “All our varsity team is accounted for really.”

Midgette said 57 or 58 players currently are practicing with about 20 of those designated for the junior varsity squad.

Webb’s workouts begin each day at 8:30 a.m. until school starts and last Friday, Midgette welcomed back a team eager to put last season in the rearview mirror.

The Warriors were competitive in some losses last season and suffered key injuries down the stretch.

“Very upbeat,” Midgette said of the mood around practice. “The kids see the changes that we’ve made on the field and also off the field.”

One of those changes off the field includes a renovated locker room.

One of those key injuries last season was to Gearl Majors, a defensive tackle who was sidelined for much of the 3-A Big Eight Conference season.

Majors, also an offensive lineman, has a scholarship offer from Elon and has received interest from ACC and SEC schools.

“It feels good being back with my team,” said Majors, a 6-foot-3, 285-pound senior. “As players, we’re developing. Last season, we didn’t have a good season. So it’s good to be back out with the team. Everybody’s getting in conditioning shape. We’re planning on doing big things this year.”

It started with strength and conditioning in the spring.

Midgette credited assistant coach Marcus Hicks with getting the Warriors in shape.

“We had a very good spring,” said Midgette. “We saw some big gains from our kids. The kids are excited.”

As the excitement of a new campaign continues to build, Midgette said the focus now in preseason practice is tempo.

“We want to keep everybody running, upbeat,” said the Warriors’ head coach. “It’s high school football. Mistakes are going to happen. Don’t get so bent out of shape. We’re still learning. It’s still the summer, not game week yet.”

Webb is slated to participate in two preseason scrimmages, Aug. 12 at home against Bluestone, Virginia and Aug. 15 at a 10-team event in Midgette’s native Elizabeth City.

The Warriors open the regular season Aug. 22 at Granville Central.

Note: The Dispatch is visiting preseason practice of each of the area high school football teams. The focus is Warren County in Thursday's print edition. Find a story on Northern Vance in Friday's edition with Southern Vance slated for Saturday.

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