Defensive skills, weight room should help
By JEFF BIRCHFIELD
Taking a page from the NFL Champion Baltimore
Ravens, the 2001 Happy Valley Warriors are built on a strong
defense, aided by dedication in the weight room.
Even HV head coach Stan Ogg, who holds a Masters
degree in the Lou Holtz art of poor-mouthing, finds plenty
to be excited about with this year's defense.
"I think the defense is ahead of the offense,"
said Ogg. "We returned more people and got them back healthy.
We have some guys who rehabbed through the offseason. We're
more intact defensively. They're a hungry bunch, who likes
to play defense."
In the first scrimmage of the year, Happy Valley
showed just how good that defense could be, holding Sullivan
East to one score, while the Warrior offense put the ball
in the end zone four times.
"I thought defensively we played really well,"
said Ogg about the season-opening scrimmage. "We had a little
breakdown for about five plays where we didn't tackle well.
Other than that, out of 60 defensive snaps by the varsity,
55 of them were pretty darned good."
A four-man linebacking corps of Cody Cannon,
Forrest Holt, Jason Tittle and Andy Hilton is the centerpiece
of the Warrior defense. Cannon (5-11, 188) is the only junior
of the bunch with Holt (6-0, 207), Tittle (5-11, 155) and
Hilton (6-0, 189) all starting their final seasons on Warrior
"That's our most experience," said Ogg, entering
his fifth season at the Warrior helm. "We would have had all
four starting linebackers back, if we hadn't have moved one
(Jesse Bowers). Tittle was hurt a lot last year. He played
through four games and then had trouble with his shoulder.
It was rough. Overall, that is where we have the most depth
One of the biggest changes is on the defensive
line, where Bowers (6-5, 235) has been moved from his linebacking
spot to a more natural position of defensive end. John Hughes
(6-1, 221) will also bolster the front-line. This is to offset
losing three starters off last season's squad.
In the backfield will be junior James Matherly
(5-8, 137) and senior Andy Bean (5-8, 141) on the corners.
"Those two finished the year out, because our two seniors
were out by weeks three and five respectively," explained
Ogg. "Lamar Rollins (6-0, 192) will be at free safety."
The 2001 Warriors also are more fit than a season
ago with many on the team choosing to spend their free time
in the summer time in the weight room.
"I weighed about 215 last year," said Cannon.
"This year I really worked off my weight. Me and Forrest Holt
have been really been working out together. It should help
my speed and strength."
Added Bowers, "We've all been there all summer,
trying to help each other out. We kind of keep either other
straight in there."
This version of the Warriors comes on the heels
of last year's disappointing 4-6 season. After winning one
of the biggest games in school history over Elizabethton 34-21
in week one, injuries depleted the ranks soon afterward, with
starting quarterback Mark White lost with a torn ACL for the
The end of the season came with a bitter 13-7
loss to cross-county rival Hampton, where the Warriors fumbled
Rollins did an outstanding job as a replacement
for White after the knee injury and will again take over behind
center. "He's our quarterback and he's doing a good job,"
said Ogg, who has a record of 29-16 in his four prior seasons
as Happy Valley head coach. "He's learning. He's very athletic
and his work ethic is very good."
The Warrior offense will mainly be a version
of the option, inside-veer oriented, but with some key additions,
there could be an occasional twist to the HV gameplan.
"Lamar runs well," said Ogg. "But, he throws
well too. It's no secret we're not throwing it 45 times a
game, but, if we can protect and catch, we will throw the
football too. We've got Jack Everhardt (5-5, 130) who has
played for us for three years. Chris Campbell (6-2, 162) comes
to us for the first time off the basketball team. He hadn't
played since middle school, but he's a good-looking receiver.
Andy Bean has played receiver for two and a half years. Jesse
Bowers is a big target at tight end."
Cannon is to pick some of the running chores
at the starting tailback position. Stephen Thompson (5-7,
186) is expected to start at fullback. Tittle will play both
tailback and fullback. Hilton and sophomore Tim Whaley (6-1,
182) are also expected to see playing time at fullback.
Hilton has also been taking snaps in the backup
quarterback role, replacing Jon Harrison (5-9, 159), who broke
his foot in a Aug. 10 scrimmage with Greeneville and Tennessee
High. Up front, Hughes, Matt Walsh (5-10, 253) and Daniel
Back (5-11, 210) head up the trenches.
Still, it is the defense expected to carry the
Warriors over the hump in the early season. "We have to be
careful and not turn the ball over and put our defense in
a bad position like we did in the Hampton game last year,"
Ogg remarked. "We're taking practice one day at a time. The
kids have a good attitude. They want it this year."