Things are changing quickly for Pulaski County football.
Just over two and a half months ago Stephen James was announced as the new head coach of the Cougar football program. At his formal introduction to parents, players, and fans that night in the PCHS Little Theatre, Coach James made his plans very clear concerning Pulaski County football
“We will play physical football. We will hit. It’s time to get into the weight room,” said Coach James that night. “I believe in being physically strong and tough. To play football the way I want Pulaski County to play football, we are going to need to get bigger and stronger. Offense and defense will work itself out later, but right now our focus is going to be in the weight room. We’re going to spend a lot of time in the weight room. It’s time to smack people in the mouth.”
So since that time, what has he done?
He’s done exactly what he said he was going to do. He has put his team into the weight room and worked them … hard. It only takes a few minutes of watching these young men to see that the attitude is changing.
They are getting stronger, sometimes much, much stronger. They are also getting bigger, and in the right spots. Even with the loss of names like Kareem Calfee, James Reynolds, and some of the others that graduated a few short weeks ago, the defensive front should be aggressive and very physical.
The offensive front may not be as tall as it has been in some years, but I would expect them to be strong, quick, and they will not be intimidated asily.
Pulaski County will have several names in the hat for some of the key spots on offense, with a wealth of talent and experience showing up at the quarterback spot. Senior Jesse Draper would have to be a favorite coming into the start of practice based on his performance in games last season, but expect junior Landen Lawson, sophomore Bryant Grubb, and freshman Kellen Dalton to all be pushing to get in reps during practice. They all want the ball, and most likely they all will get it at some point.
While it’s way too early to start naming names to starting positions, there will be some familiar faces back from last season’s squad. Many of those young players that got quality playing time as a part of last years team are now coming back bigger and more experienced. That can be a dangerous combination.
There will also be some new faces that might make a mark on the program. Word is leaking out on social media to the student/athletes at PCHS that something good is happening next to the cornfield. It’s something that people are going to want to be a part of.
While the workouts to this point have not been mandatory, they are highly encouraged if a player wants to compete for playing time in the upcoming season. The same comments have been overheard coming from many of the players who have been out all summer. They expect any potential teammates to be there now putting in the work.
The Cougars will see their first live action of the season on Aug. 15 when they host a scrimmage that will now have the Cougars, Magna Vista, Lord Botetourt, and Abingdon all involved. The event will be a “40-yard battle” setup, with all four teams on the field at the same time. It will be a tightly controlled scrimmage with the coaches on the field. In short, it will be a work session for all involved. The Cougar junior varsity team will scrimmage at the same time on the upper practice field. The start time for the day has not been determined yet, but will be announced soon. The following week Pulaski County will host Giles in the annual benefit game. That will be at 7 p.m. on Aug. 22.
The regular season gets underway with a road trip to Christiansburg on Aug. 29, followed by what will be the last installment in the foreseeable future of “The Battle of the Bridge” between Radford and Pulaski on Sept. 5. Road trips to Patrick Henry on Sept. 12, Staunton River on Sept. 19, and Carroll County on Sept. 26 will eat up the remainder of that month.
October will start with the Cougars hosting Blacksburg on Oct. 3, then the Franklin County Eagles will come calling on Oct. 10. A home match against Cave Spring on Oct. 17 and a road trip to face Hidden Valley on Oct. 24 will lead Pulaski County into an open week before facing the Salem Spartans on Nov. 7.
Expect to see a new attitude when the Cougars walk down those 63 steps of Kenneth J. Dobson Stadium onto the surface of Joel Hicks Field this year. Pulaski County football has some debts to settle.
Catching up on Hokie football
As we continue to get closer to the start of football season, we’ll be hearing more and more about things happening around the Virginia Tech program.
Earlier in June former Tech running back and All-American Kevin Jones was hired as a special assistant to Athletic Director Whit Babcock. His association with the football program and Virginia Tech athletics will be a huge asset to the Hokies when it comes to luring quality athletes to Blacksburg.
Virginia Tech recently celebrated their 10 year anniversary with the ACC, and a quick look back shows that the two have been a good team.
Since 2004, Virginia Tech has 99 total wins in football. That’s seven more than Florida State (92) and 14 more than Clemson (85). A look at the rest of the conference would see Georgia Tech with 79 wins, Boston College with 76, Miami with 75, North Carolina with 64, Wake Forest with 59, N.C. State with 58, Maryland with 57, Virginia with 55, and Duke rounding out the bottom with 35 wins.
If you look at just ACC match ups, the Hokies still hold the lead with 65 wins, followed by FSU with 56. The Hokies have 4 ACC football titles in that time frame, followed by Florida State with 3, and Clemson, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest with one each. Virginia Tech also has five division titles. Florida State has four, Georgia Tech has three, Clemson and Boston College have two each, and Wake Forest and Duke have one each.
Tech has also led the way with Player of the Year honors (3 – Bryan Randall, Tyrod Taylor, and David Wilson). Surprisingly, the Hokies have not had a Defensive Player of the Year in that same time frame.
Preseason “watch lists” are one of the many things that keep the sports talk people buzzing, and so far there have been a few Hokies that are getting a good amount of attention.
Defensive tackle Luther Maddy and cornerback Kendall Fuller were selected to the Chuck Bednarik Award watch list, and then they were also named on the Nagurski Trophy watch list. Both of these awards recognize the top defensive player of the year. Fuller was also added to the Jim Thorpe Award list, which recognizes the top defensive back of the year. A.J. Hughes was noted on the Ray Guy Award watch list, which honors the top punter in the game.
More names may be added to the list of preseason watch lists over the next week as a total of ten awards will pick who they feel will be the top athletes in their respective areas this coming season.
Practice is fast approaching for the 2014 season. The ACC Kickoff media event will take place July 20-21, and for Virginia Tech the players will report on Aug. 3 and start practice on Aug. 4. Media Day at Lane Stadium will be on Aug. 9.
The first game of the season will see the Hokies hosting William and Mary on August 30 at 3:30 p.m. A road trip to take on Ohio State on Sept. 6, a home game against East Carolina on Sept. 13, a home contest against Georgia Tech on Sept. 20, and another home game against Western Michigan on Sept. 27 will take up the early portion of the Hokie’s schedule.