Updated Thu, Aug 21, 2014 7:21 pm
Editor's Note: Over the next two weeks our reporters will be bringing you team previews for each team in the SEOAL, TVC-Ohio, TVC-Hocking, and our West Virginia teams. We continue in West Virginia, where Williamstown is thinking state title in 2014.
After falling one game short of the state championship last season, the Williamstown Yellowjackets are focusing hard on what they believe will be the key to bringing home the state title this year: defense.
Coming off a 10-3 record, coach Terry Smith said he is hopeful that his team’s solid defense will lead to significant production on offense.
“I hope that we can throw the ball a little bit better, Smith said, “and I want to be able to run the ball when we can that’s the main thing we’re thinking offensively. Defensively I’d just like us to play good, solid defense without having to blitz because that puts you in some tough situations.”
Leading the Jackets on offense at quarterback will be senior and captain Dakota Watson, who saw significant time as a tailback over the previous two seasons. However, Watson says he is adjusting well to the quarterback position so far.
“It’s actually pretty easy because what we run is designed for the quarterback to be able to run too,” he said. “So sometimes it’s just like I’m a running back again, just have to throw that throwing in there.”
When Watson does look down field, he will hope to connect with fellow senior wide receiver Hunter Neely. As a junior he set a school record by hauling in eight receptions in a single game against Ritchie County and ended the season with 34 catches for 433 yards and eight touchdowns. In terms of repeating that success, Neely has a simple solution.
“I’m just trying to do the same thing I did last year,” he said, “hustle, work hard, and I’m sure our team will get things done.”
Besides Watson and Neely, many underclassmen have stepped in to fill key positions on the field. Sophomores will occupy the Jackets’ running back, receiver, tight end and offensive tackle positions.
“They look pretty solid and they’re still young kids and that’s what kind of gets you when you sit there and think ‘wow, this kid is a tenth grader,’” Smith said.
One sophomore looking to make an immediate impact on the gridiron this fall is Trevor Hoosier. The 6-foot-4-inch tight end knows how critical carrying out his duties is to his team’s success.
“I just have to play for my team and to make sure I do my job and I can depend on them to do their job, “ Hoosier said.
Combine the leadership of ten seniors with the new talent of underclassmen and the Jackets appear to be on track to meet their goals of winning the Little Kanawha Conference, making the playoffs and advancing to the state championship.
Coach Smith is no stranger to success, gaining his 100th career victory during the 2013 season, but he remains focused on the first obstacle of this season: game one.
“We want to win a championship. We want to go as far as we can and all that, but we got to be 1-0 first”.
Williamstown takes the first step in reaching their goal on Aug. 29 when they take on travel to Tyler High School for the season opener.
'Gridiron Glory' returns on Friday, Aug. 22 at 11:30 p.m. on WOUB. You can follow the show on Twitter @gridironglory, like the Gridiron Glory page on Facebook, and follow along on Instagram @woubsports. You can also join the conversation throughout the season by using the hashtag #GridGlory.