AUGUSTA COUNTY — With the onset of schools opening this week, local county football teams have begun to gear up for the upcoming season.
At Riverheads High School, the new boss is the same as the old boss, as veteran coach Robert Casto takes over for, well, himself.
After retiring last year after winning the state championship three years running, Casto decided to step away from the game. Now, after the school was unable to make arrangements with another coach, Casto chose to unretire to coach the Gladiators again.
“I’m too young to give this up,” Casto said. “I’m glad to be back.”
Gladiator Nation is certainly glad he’s back, too.
At Monday’s first day of practice, the varsity numbers topped 50, an impressive total for a 1A-sized school. “That’s a good number for any size school,” Casto said.
In addition to coaches and players, a handful of recent Riverheads graduates showed up for the first day of practice, reminiscing about their glory days as Gladiators.
At Wilson Memorial, head coach Jeremiah Major has about 33 varsity players in camp and is happy with the early attitude of the Hornets.
“There’s a lot of energy, they are wanting to win, working hard, respectful and getting after it on the field,” Major said.
The Wilson coach mentioned that right now, a primary goal is to stay healthy and that a lot of teaching the game is going on.
“We have a lot of young kids [only two returning seniors on defense], but we’re a tight-knit group,” Major said. “Our coaching staff is very energetic, too.”
Major welcomes former Waynesboro standout Jacoby Napier to the coaching staff.
The Hornets attended a two-day camp in Pennsylvania this summer and did an optimum amount of work in the offseason.
Wilson’s first scrimmage is next Friday against Central-Lunenburg.
At Stuarts Draft, head coach Nathan Floyd, entering his sixth season as head coach, welcomed 35 players to Day 3 of practice on Wednesday.
“We’re trying to get in shape and working on fundamentals,” Floyd said.
The Cougars are junior-heavy in terms of their roster. Last season’s large sophomore group has a year of experience under their belts, but have only a handful of senior players on the varsity.
“We have nice, hardworking, polite kids that are coachable,” said offensive line coach Abe Mikell.
The Cougars will be severely tested early in their first scrimmage, traveling to 3A powerhouse Spotswood next Friday.