Work ethic, attitude give Happy Valley reason to feel good

By Marvin Birchfield

   It will be a test of time to see what the Happy Valley Warriors have in store for the Watauga Conference, as they try to improve from last seasons .500 mark.
   The Warriors finished at 5-5 in the regular season and it won't be easy for them to better themselves, but don't count them out just yet.
   "We expect good things and talk about it everyday. Our kids believe in themselves with positive attitudes, and that's the way we coach them," said Happy Valley head coach Stan Ogg.
   The Warriors were ousted by Sweetwater last year in the first round of the playoffs, and this season they will look to return for another shot in the postseason.
   "A goal of ours is how we play and fare in the region, and the expectations are trying to get better everyday and to be as prepared and sound as we can be," said Ogg.
   Ogg feels like they have improved from last season, and the chance for them to make a statement could possibly be right at the door step.
   "We've had a very good off-season, and a lot of kids are stronger," Ogg said. "Some of them have improved on their speed, so I think we're better than what we were a year ago."
   One of the biggest things that has pleased the coaching staff so far is the fact that the kids have really worked hard and dedicated themselves as a team.
   "We feel like we have some depth at positions and that's what we try to create, so we feel like our kids have improved in their ability and how they play the game," said Ogg.
   Last season the underclassman had to step up at times due to injuries and other possible reasons, so don't be surprised to see a few freshmen in there contributing.
   "We feel like we have some kids that can contribute at the ninth-grade level, but we're not going to send them out there right away," Ogg said. "We to create depth and compete for playing time."
   Size difference may be a little bit of an issue for the Warriors this season, but they feel like they can move some people around and still be able to match-up with most.
   "Probably teams have a little more size than what we've got, but we can throw some kids in there. We have a lot of them in the 200-pound range," said Ogg.
   As far as the defense versus the offense, Ogg says the defense is presently looking better, but this is no different than any other past seasons.
   "Our defense is ahead of our offense right now just because it's still preseason, but we're getting better and finding out who can carry the football and who we can throw it too," said Ogg.
   Look for junior Tim Whaley to be in the tailback position, with Cody Cannon leading the way at the fullback position.
   "We've moved one of our tailbacks to fullback, and he's learning and getting better everyday at that position," said Ogg. "Tim Whaley has gotten bigger and stronger and he's doing a nice job at running the ball for us."
   Senior Lamar Rollins will be the man taking the snaps for the Warriors, as his experience and leadership role may be the big key to their success.
   "Lamar has been in there two and a half years now, and gets better everyday," Ogg said. "He can take our offense and do a lot with it."
   Ogg says Rollins is the one who pulls the trigger and makes the decisions, and changes the play at the line of scrimmage if needed.
   As far as the line goes, Ogg thinks they have to move people out of the way, and when they do they'll be successful on offense.
   Expect the defense to be the strong point of the Warriors success, as they look to mix it up in trying topple their opponents.
   "We've actually changed some things, and our scheme is a little different this year, but it's not drastic just the techniques are different," said Ogg.
   The Warriors did lose some of their players in the linebacker positions, and have filled it with bringing a safety and corner to that spot.
   "We've probably got more depth in the defensive line than we do at linebacker, so we're playing less true linebacker this year than what we have in the past," said Ogg.
   They also lost a bit in their secondary, but Ogg feels like their improving and will be all right when the season rolls around.
   "Our secondary is coming around for graduation hurt us, but we have two seniors back there, and their doing a good job in leading our young kids," said Ogg.
   Look for the Warriors to be stronger on the defensive line than previously, as they are led by Kenneth Campbell, who had a good season last year.
   "Kenneth Campbell did a good job at defensive end last season in getting sacks and going after the quarterback, and our inside people are stronger than they have been before," said Ogg.
   The main focus for Happy Valley at the moment is not whether they can make the playoffs, but going out and taking care of business in their season opener against Unicoi County on Aug. 30.
   "We're not talking about the playoffs yet," Ogg said. "The first thing is getting ready for Unicoi, and the playoffs will take care of themselves."