Eagles welcome 45 to preseason practice

Aug. 08, 2014 @ 10:22 PM

Warren County is getting physically stronger and faster from top to bottom of its roster, but losing 14 from last season’s senior class could mean a drop in power for the players that will see the most field time.

“The younger kids are stronger than the younger kids in the past,” said Warren County head coach John Ward, “but we don’t have as many upperclassmen.”

On Tuesday, Ward had 45 total players with about 19 seniors and juniors combined.

Today is the final day for Eagles to report to practice.

Returning all-conference lineman Josh Moss is one of those upperclassmen and expected to help lead the team.

“Tough,” Moss said of the Eagles’ early practices. “Getting back in shape. We still need to get together and play as a team. Play a little harder.”

Warren County finished 5-6 last season, narrowly missing a 2-A state playoff berth.

Moss, a 6-foot-2, 270-pound senior, said he sees the gains in Warren County’s overall strength as Ward begins his third season in Warrenton.

“We have more people lifting more than we did the last couple of years,” said Moss, a defensive tackle and offensive guard. “We have a lot more 10th, 11th and 12th graders lifting more than we did the last three years. It’s working.”

Ward said the emphasis in practice so far has been on the basics, all the way down to players getting comfortable in their gear.

“We’re trying to get them more acclimated to helmets and shoulder pads being on their body,” said Ward.

N.C. High School Athletic Association guidelines permit athletes to practice in helmets and shoulder pads on their third day of practice. Day six brings full gear and contact and on the ninth day, full contact is allowed in scrimmages against other schools.

The Eagles are also getting Ward’s single-wing offense down, with a some added wrinkles expected this season.

“They’re a lot more familiar with the basics of our offense and defense,” said Ward. “I think we’re going to be able to add new concepts to our offense. We’re still looking for someone who can pass. We don’t have a prototypical passer in our program anywhere.”

Warren County is scheduled to participate in a Hertford County scrimmage Thursday, Aug. 14 and in Southern Vance’s Pigskin Jamboree Saturday, Aug. 16.

The Eagles open the regular season Friday, Aug. 29 at Northern Vance.

The Dispatch is visiting preseason practice of each of the area high school football teams. There are two stops left. Find a story on Northern Vance in Friday's edition with Southern Vance slated for Saturday.

Contact the writer at kholtzman@hendersondispatch.com.