By Tommy Keeler Jr.
As soon as Brandon Shields went in for his interview, he knew Central would be a perfect fit for him.
Shields was hired in May as the new boys basketball coach, and he couldn't be happier.
"It was a two-interview process, and as soon as I went in for the first interview I fell in love with the place," Shields said. "By the time I went back for the second interview I knew that I really wanted to be here. I was just really impressed by the people in the building, the way the kids acted."
Shields replaces Mickey Clinedinst as head coach. Clinedinst resigned after the season after three years as head coach.
Shields is a Turner Ashby graduate, and spent the last four years as an assistant varsity coach there, as well as the head J.V. coach.
He has been an assistant coach at Pulaski County High and East Montgomery High Schools, and has been successful everywhere he's coached. That's one of the things that Central athletic director Kenny Rinker said he really liked about Shields.
Rinker said that he also liked Shields' attitude.
"He's young, but he's got a lot of old-school qualities about him," Rinker said. "He has a hard-work ethic. He believes in discipline, making sure things get done the right way."
Shields, a Radford University graduate, said he wants his teams to be focused on the defensive side of things.
"I want us to be known as a hard-nosed, blue-collar type of team on defense," Shields said. "I think everything starts on the defensive end."
Shields said he wants the team to play good team basketball and to play for each other.
The Falcons were 7-17 last season, losing to Strasburg in the Bull Run District tournament quarterfinals.
Central lost six players to graduation, but also had six juniors on the team, including 6-foot-1 leading scorer Travis Cooper.
Shields has already hit the ground running this summer with his players. He's held numerous open gyms, workouts and team camps. They went to a team camp recently in Rustburg, and went this past weekend to one at Juniata (Pa.).
"We've been pretty busy, and the kids have really responded well," Shields said. "I think they've been working hard. They're still learning what I'm OK with and not OK with. We're still getting to know each other."
The Virginia High School League is expanding to six classes next year, and the Falcons will be moving up to Group 3A.
They will have to compete with bigger schools, including Loudoun Valley, Warren County and Skyline in their conference. Shields knows a lot about some of the teams in 3A, since some of those teams were in the same classification as Turner Ashby over the last four years.
"That's one of the things that I talked with them about in our very first team meeting," Shields said. "When they get into the postseason, they're going to have to beat teams like Turner Ashby, Spotswood, Loudoun Valley, Skyline and nobody's going to care that they were a single-A or 2A school before. We're going to have to try and raise the bar. That's one of the reasons that I wanted to go to Rustburg and Juniata (Pa.). I wanted us to play better competition, and to play where nobody knows us."
Shields said things have been going great so far, and he's excited for the upcoming season.
"It's been a blast," Shields said. "The community has been great, and really supportive. I really love Woodstock, and I'm starting to feel at home."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or email@example.com