With just a handful of upperclassmen, the Waynesboro High School football team is undergoing a youth movement as the opening day of full practice began Thursday.
With a beginning number of 28-30 players on site on day one, veteran WHS head coach Shawn Moran will be forced to put his young players into varsity action immediately.
With no junior varsity team this season due to lack of numbers, the new Little Giant freshmen and sophomores will be thrown into the fire from the get-go. The next few weeks of preseason practice will go a long way to determine the success of this youthful group.
“I love them,” said Moran of his new recruits. “They’re gonna keep us on life support. They’re great kids.”
Moran said that fully two thirds of the team will be freshmen or sophomores, many of whom will step into varsity roles without the benefit even of playing at the JV level. But Moran said that several of the freshmen have tested out in the 90th percentile physically and should be ready to go.
“This season is on us,” Moran said, referring to how much instruction the coaches will need to impart to the young players. “We will be teaching basics, putting forth effort and making good decisions as players.”
The eighth-graders who would have been eligible for the JV this season, will have an opportunity to play competitively this season, either through the Waynesboro Little League or the Spartan League.
While the Little Giants may lack playing experience on the field, they won’t be lacking in coaching experience.
In addition to Moran, who enters his 14th season as an assistant and head coach at Waynesboro, former head coaches Derek McDaniel, Tom Goforth and Jake Gray are all part of the 2019 coaching staff at WHS.
McDaniel, the current athletic director at Waynesboro and former head coach at WHS and Wilson Memorial, returns to the sideline and will work with the offensive line and linebackers.
“I can’t believe I’m doing this again,” McDaniel said.
Goforth, who is the former head coach at Stuarts Draft and has also worked in the past at Waynesboro is back as defensive coordinator for the Little Giants.
“They must have been really desperate to get me back out of mothballs,” Goforth joked.
Gray also had a stint as the head coach of Stuarts Draft.
Moran is excited to start a new season with an exciting opportunity to work with so many new players and surrounded by so much coaching experience.
“There’s an excitement,” Moran said. “It just feels right. It’s a comfortable situation and I’m thankful and grateful they are all here.”