Despite changes, Warriors ready for August practices

By Jeff Birchfield

   Losing your offensive coordinator, your top offensive player and another top assistant coach is hardly the way a team wants to begin preparing for a new football season.
   Despite no longer having the services of Drew Pettit, Tim Whaley and Larry Abel, Happy Valley head football coach Stan Ogg is guardedly optimistic about his 2004 Warriors as they head off for the summer break.
   "The spring was limited for us with baseball still going on," said Ogg, whose team recorded a magnificent 9-1 season in 2003. "We had two coaches and a bunch of players involved. The days of practice we got in, I liked what I saw. We have some guys who are fast and go hard to the football."
   The first order of business will be building onto the coaching staff, which is hurting from the losses of Pettit and Abel.
   "Right now we have four of us coaching," said Ogg. "We added coach Travis Hurley and he did a nice job for us in the spring. We would like to have one or two more coaches. We are hunting for them at this point, it depends on teaching openings. The three assistants I do have impress me, but we need a little more help in general."
   Defensively, the Warriors seem to be in good hands with Greg Hyder, one of the top coordinators in the area. His HV units have been among the stingiest in Northeast Tennessee in giving up yards and points the last two seasons.
   The main question mark revolves around the offensive. Andy Curtis, who worked closely with Pettit last season, will be doing much of the work as the top offensive coach.
   "Coach Curtis did a nice job through the spring," said Ogg. "He's capable of doing what we need him to do. He coaches a lot older than what he is. He's been taught by some excellent tutors and that has translated well for us. Right now, he is running the offense."
   The Warriors promise to stay with the I-formation that was so successful in 2003. In the offense, the biggest challenge will be finding a replacement to 1200-yard back Tim Whaley.
   Michael Hollifield, whom Ogg said had a great spring, is the early starter. Speedy Ryan Garland will also see plenty of action, although he's also being counted on in a variety of other roles. Sophomore Francisco Borquez, coming off a good JV season, will help round out the tailback by committee plan of Ogg.
   The runners will have a good front line to rush behind. Despite key losses of Daniel Dover, Josh Smith and Austin Shell, the Warriors have Division 1-A prospect Jordy Harrison back.
   Another starter from last year, Cane Cannon seems to be recovered from late-season illness, while Daniel Guinn has been in the weight room preparing for a bigger role this year.
   Michael Higgins and Vince Hodge are the weak side starters listed going into the break.
   Quarterback and receivers are a definite strength, with lefty Todd Caldwell again calling the shots behind center. Main targets should be Drew Davis, Greg Swafford, Brian Black and Garland.
   The fullback Will Lowe is considered a key to the Warriors' year, even moreso on the defensive side of the ball where he is the top returning linebacker.
   Defensively, Davis will be hard pressed to top 2003, when he led the Watauga Conference in interceptions and was named to the Tennessee Sports Writers Association All-State team.
   Overall, the prospects for the upcoming campaign look good. However, Ogg will be the first to tell you, little is known until you get to the practice field in August.
   "We've gotten a little stronger in the offseason and the program coach Campbell has put into place is paying dividends," said Ogg. "We have some places we have moved people around and we definitely have to replace some people defensively in the front eight.
   "With reps, our offensive line should keep getting better. The main thing is we have got to work on creating a little more depth, especially with the linemen. That is something we were able to do last season and we could wear down a lot of teams."