2015 Football: McHale tabs Bishop ‘a leader’

James Wood's Tyler Bishop is coming off another strong season at running back for the Colonels. Rich Cooley/Daily

WINCHESTER — As good a player as he is on the field, it might be his effort off the field that most defines James Wood High School running back-linebacker Tyler Bishop.

“Tyler Bishop is as good as they come when it comes to leading the team,” said James Wood coach Mark McHale. “First of all, he has the temperament for it — to be a leader. Then he leads us in everything else, on the field, off the field, in the weight room and out of it.”

On the field, the last time area fans got a good look at Bishop, a 5-foot-8, 190-pound senior, he was carrying the ball into the end zone from 10 yards out to stop city-county rival Handley 27-21 in a regular-season overtime finale. The Colonels went on to lose a playoff battle, but what Bishop and his teammates had done was nothing short of historic.

The 5-6 overall record was the best since the 2010 season. The playoff spot was the Colonels’ first since 2011. The victory over the Judges was their first since 2007. Before that you would have to go all the way back to 1992 for the last time the Gold and Blue knocked off the Maroon and White.

“Twenty-two years. Twenty-two years!” McHale said incredulously. “I hadn’t been around and couldn’t believe you had to go back 22 years.”

McHale was part of the Walter Barr dynasty that the Hall of Fame high school and college coach established his first time around at the Frederick County school. McHale played for and coached with Barr at their alma mater, Shepherd College. The current JW coach also had stops with Bobby Bowden at Florida State. He has coached scholastic, college and pro-level ball.

“Our rival here is Millbrook, because a lot of our players went to school with members of their team. But you know who my rival is. It’s Handley. So I’m working on getting us two rivals on the schedule,” McHale said.

In order to do that, Bishop may have to match last season’s numbers. As a running back he carried for about 900 yards and caught passes for almost 260 more. He scored 12 total touchdowns. Defensively, he accumulated an unheard-of 135 tackles.

Yet the three-year starter would prefer to talk about the team.

“I’m not into my individual goals as I am our team goals. One of them is to go farther in the playoffs than we did this year. We’ll have to work at it, and stay healthy, but if we can do those two things, I think we have a chance.”

McHale is not so bold, preferring to play it day-by-day.

“I’m like Nick Saban. If we get better each day, the rest will take care of itself.”

However, the coach is pleased about the team’s attitude.

“They should feel good. They should want to improve,” said the coach.

If the Colonels are to achieve last season’s success or stretch the season further, a lot of it will have to do with the leadership that players like Bishop, Ryan Funkhouser and Asa Brewer provide. All three were all-conference second team members. They were part of the All-Northwestern District first team.

McHale said, “We have a good weight program.” He sets up tests individuals at nine-week intervals and said the team did better than expected in conditioning.

A big part of it was due to Bishop’s leadership.

“He works hard so those around him work hard to keep up with him. He’s one of our leaders,” said the coach.