Sunday, August 24, 2008

Injuries May Have WHS using the Single-Wing

Tate returns with lofty goals

By David Hearne

The winds of change blew through the Wren High School football program in the offseason, bringing a fresh attitude along with new coach Jeff Tate, who played at Wren. And while building a winning program doesn't happen overnight, Tate believes his team has the talent to have success this season.

"The kids are enthusiastic. I'm not satisfied, but I'm pleased with the amount of information we've been able to give them," Tate said. "Our goal is to win each game we're involved in. I expect our kids to have a great season. We've got an opportunity to be successful in our non-region games and to compete in our region."

Wren (4-7 overall, 1-4 Region 1-AAAA in 2007) has used the ground game to attempt to control the game in recent years, but this year's team will be more balanced. The team will still rely on the running game, but Tate wants to "be able to throw it when we want to and throw it when we have to."

After spring practice sophomore Austin McCaskill had separated himself as the top quarterback, but will miss the beginning of the season after an appendectomy. The Hurricanes have been looking at senior Brent Sinopoli and freshman Austin Anderson, but both were injured in preseason scrimmages. Tate has considered going to with a single wing look until his quarterbacks are healthy.

"(Brent and Austin) got banged up a little bit. We're thinking about running more of our misdirection stuff, more like a single wing. You can give up or you can try to be creative," Tate said. "Austin McCaskill has the physical ability and intellectually he has figured out what to do (with the offense). Brent has been working, and Austin Anderson is gonna give us a chance to throw the football as he develops."

Wren's receiving corps will feature several big targets, and will be led by senior captain D.J. Brown. Sidney Rhodes moves over from quarterback to the slot position, and basketball guard Demetrius Babb is another athletic target on the outside. Chris Perdamo has also impressed Tate with his playmaking ability and understanding of the game.

Tate has been pleased with what he has seen at running back from Chris Roberts, a strong runner with speed and the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. Roberts also suffered an injury in the preseason.

"He hurt his ankle a little bit, but he's gonna get back. Any time he misses is significant. It's hard for me to tell you how long it'll be before he gets back, but I don't think it's too far into the future," said Tate.

Two captains anchor the offensive line, with seniors Ryan Thurn at center and Jamal Ellis at left tackle. Stepping in at right tackle is sophomore Shaq Anthony, who Tate believes has the potential to be one of the best linemen to play at Wren. Seth Camp and Zach Pritchett will round out the line at the guard positions.

Tate wants the Hurricanes 3-5-3 defense to be an aggressive, attacking unit. "We're going to attack, and we're going to blitz as soon as we get on the field," said Tate. "We've got secondary people who can come on stunts, and we've got linebackers who can run pretty good. We're not a sit and read defense."

Senior Richie McCarroll is a physical presence on the defensive line, and may be joined by freshmen John Michael Pritchett and Landon Stacy. "A lot of people say that you can't win with freshmen. But I can tell you some freshmen that have played, and they played because somebody couldn't beat them out," Tate said.

Kyle Vargo is an athletic linebacker who will help in pass coverage and on blitzes. Brook McCollum is another linebacker who Tate describes as a brick wall, saying "He's like a cement wall, hard and doesn't know anything but how to work."

Wren will be a multi coverage team, and the defensive backfield will be led by senior Nate Holmes. Holmes, a team captain, will be joined by Andrew Kohler, and Tate said that both have shown continued improvement at each practice. Chris Roberts, Elliot Caldwell, and Rashaad Floyd will also see time at defensive back.

The Greenville News
305 S. Main St.
PO Box 1688
Greenville, SC 29602

Wren High School
905 Wren School Road
Piedmont, SC 29673

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