No news, good news for Happy Valley

By Jeff Birchfield
STAR Staff

   After seeing his team suffer key injuries the last two years in spring practices before football officially kicks off, Happy Valley head coach Stan Ogg was glad to have very few newsworthy items heading into the 2003 summer.
   "Everything went pretty well," said Ogg. "We have nothing major to report. We had a few players suffer a couple of little nicks, but there were no major injuries. We tried to find out who wants to play and were able to tinker with some things before the fall."
   You can't blame the coach for looking at no major news as good news. Two seasons ago, key lineman Daniel Back was lost in the spring before his senior season and last year starting quarterback Lamar Rollins suffered a shoulder injury that hampered his play all season.
   "I think we came out of the spring ok," said Ogg. "We had a lot of people step up. We tried to establish some depth. There are times people can't go and you have to find depth and find players to play new positions."
   One of those positions is the team's offensive signal caller. Todd Caldwell was last year's starter after Rollins went down.
   The soon to be sophomore had to set out the team's scrimmage against Sullivan East this past Thursday, healing a broken arm suffered in basketball. In his absence, it opened the doors for Bryan Black, who was the starting junior varsity quarterback before suffering an injury himself in 2002.
   For much of the spring, the role has also fallen to Ryan Garland, who last season played key roles both as a receiver and returning kicks.
   "Ryan Garland played three positions for us this spring," said Ogg. "The coaches were all impressed with Ryan. The fall two-a-days starting August 1 is when we will start choosing the starters. Last season, we needed three quarterbacks and you don't have that many days to prepare the kids for that. Spring practice is good to get things done. The only thing is you don't always have the kids available as many of them are usually in baseball or track.
   "I do feel Todd will be more comfortable this season. He along with some other freshmen was thrown in there last season and it's pretty tough. It didn't take him long to get ready, but it's a tough position to put a freshman in.
   "With all the JV and varsity games the young players got plenty of experience in 2002, but they were still freshman."
   The major concern at this early stage for the Warriors remains their youth.
   Despite having 11 seniors on the team, the junior class is light, meaning 17 sophomores will be expected to make up much of the varsity roster.
   With mobile Rollins no longer back in the pocket, it is forcing some changes to the Happy Valley offensive game plan for the upcoming campaign.
   "We're not quite the same offensively as in the past with a swift running quarterback," admitted Ogg. "We're not revamping the offense, just tweaking it a little to better fit the players. We've got to get the kids in the right places. It's going to be a learning process for both the players and the coaches."
   Like in recent years, the strength of the Happy Valley team reflects the coach's commitment to defense.
   "We pride ourselves on solid defense," stated Ogg. "Our front eight controlled the line of scrimmage well against Sullivan East. I was really pleased with our linebacker play. Will Lowe took a lot of snaps and did a good job filling in a spot where we lost a tremendous player in Cody Cannon. The defensive end play was good too. The secondary also played well, but they didn't have the ballcarriers getting to them that often."
   While pleased with the play on that side of the ball, Ogg knows the Warriors have to do a better job of putting points on the board than in 2002.
   "The scrimmage looked like what happened a lot last year," said Ogg. "We're ahead on defense of where we are on offense. We played good solid defense for 48 minutes, but we just weren't moving the ball. We have got to get better on offense. We really need to work on the passing game. We have to block, execute the plays and catch the ball. We will spend much of the next three months looking at how we can make our offense better."
   That task will be instrumental in keeping opponents from keying in on the running game and helping the Warriors to improve their 6-5 mark recorded last season.