Football Preview 2017: Bush excited for first year with Wildcats
FRONT ROYAL — First-year Warren County head coach Brian Bush is excited for what’s in store for the Wildcats this season.
Bush, who was an assistant coach at Hidden Valley High School in Roanoke the last few years, said he wants his players to have fun and enjoy playing the game more than anything else.
“Once they start looking forward to practices and it’s fun and they’re enjoying everything, the winning, playing on Friday nights, all that will take care of its self,” Bush said.
The Wildcats have plenty of experience returning and have 24 seniors.
The quarterback position was up in the air during the preseason as senior R.J. Keeney and freshman Bryce Post were battling for it. Bush said they both bring some strong qualities to the position.
“R.J. Keeney, he’s very athletic and is one of the captains,” Bush said. “Bryce Post has all the quarterback tools and is athletic as well.”
Keeney played at both quarterback and wide receiver last season. As a quarterback he threw for 518 yards and five touchdowns.
One of the biggest strengths of the team this season could be at running back.
The Wildcats have plenty of returners at running back, including Ronnie Dodson. The junior ran for 693 yards and two touchdowns last season.
Cody Petitt and Darren Frantz also saw action last year, and Bush said senior Jacob Dodson will also be getting carries this season.
“We’re trying to figure out how to piece them all together,” Bush said of his running back depth. “Running backs are definitely a strength of ours.”
Bush said wide receiver is another strength of the offense.
He said seniors Michael Carter, Jacob Good, Ben Vogt, Brett Dickerson and Parker Meltveldt will see plenty of playing time at wide receiver.
Vogt had 14 receptions for 207 yards and three touchdowns last season. Meltveldt had 12 catches for 150 yards last season.
Bush said every position on his offensive line was up for grabs, and it would take some time for them to figure out who to play where. However, Bush said he liked what he saw in the early part of preseason from his line.
On the defensive line, Bush said that Jake DiPatre and Nathan Johnson will be leading the way.
Bush said that Nate Stoneberger, Aaron Schroyer and Tiernan Komelasky will see playing time on the defensive line as well.
“We gave a great group of kids that we can just throw in there,” Bush said. “And they’ll put their hands in the dirt and they’ll just fight. And that’s what I like about defense — it’s not complicated. You just put ’em in the right position and let ’em go. We have the kids that can fight their way to the ball and that’s what I like.”
Bush said that seniors Jacob Dodson, Josh Edwards, Frantz and Petitt as well as Ronnie Dodson will be seeing action at linebacker.
Bush said that much like the offensive line, they were still sorting out who to put where in the defensive backfield. He said he loves the athleticism of his defensive backs.
One position that was settled very early was at kicker. Senior Stuart Ashley will do the kicking and punting duties once again this season.
Ashley made an area-best six field goals last season.
The Wildcats went 3-7 last year, but will be playing in a new district this season. They are moving from the Bull Run District to the Northwestern District this season.
Bush said he doesn’t want his squad to look ahead too much thsi season.
“One of the main goals that I see for our team is taking one day at a time, not one game at a time, one day at a time,” Bush said. “Learning as much as we can each day. Having the best day that we can, dominate it. If we go out there and have a great practice we went 1-0 that day. Eventually that’s going to carry over.”