By Tommy Keeler Jr.
BERRYVILLE -- Clarke County coach Chris Parker can see a big difference in his team already -- literally.
The Eagles hit the weight room hard in the offseason, and it has shown with many of the players.
"We had a great offseason in the weight room," Parker said. "I think as a whole team, it's the strongest team we've had as a collective group. We've had some hard workers in the past. We've had like pockets of guys that maybe have worked harder than others. As a whole, we've worked hard."
Parker said he is hopeful that all that hard work in the weight room will pay big dividends in the season.
Clarke County lost some key players, especially running back/defensive back Davey Hardesty, but they also return a strong nucleus of players on both sides of the ball.
On offense the Eagles will be using multiple offenses. While they still run mostly out of the single-wing, they will also run out of the spread and the pistol at times this season.
Leading the way will be quarterback Sean McDonald, who has worked on improving his passing skills in the offseason.
"He's a lot stronger overall," Parker said. "He's always thrown, in my opinion, a good ball, but he's refined his technique. You can tell that."
The running game will be led by seniors Josh Dulaney, Andy King and Kasey Lake.
The Eagles will have quite a few players back on the offensive line. Luke Estep, Carson Perkins, Logan Withers and Buck Bloomingdale are all returners. Ben Wallace and Vince Zduoba will each see time at tight end.
"I figure [our experience] is going to help us a lot," Parker said. "We have to take care of business on the practice field, but I think we'll be prepared to play."
The Eagles also return some valuable experience on the defensive side of the ball.
Wallace, Estep, Withers and Bloomingdale return on the defensive line. Clarke County defensive coordinator Casey Childs said Julius Green will also see playing time on the defensive front.
Dulaney and King will lead the way at the linebackers spots, with Perkins joining them in the middle.
Lake and Wayne Rouse will lead the way in the defensive backfield. Childs said McDonald will also see playing time back there, but they will try to give him some breaks so he can focus on his quarterback duties.
"I think we return eight kids that got experience on defense in some way, and it's the second year running the same defense," Childs said. "The kids are a lot more in tune with what we're trying to do. We're trying to put every athlete we have, on the field on the defensive side."
The kicking and punting duties are up in the air, but the coaches said they like the prospects that they have.
Coming off a 6-5 season in which they lost a lot of close games, the team is motivated to build off of what they did last year.
"Our goal every year is to win the state championship," Parker said. "You gotta start from day one. I honestly take it game by game. Our goal obviously is to go as far as we can and have that trophy in our sight."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or email@example.com