Wildcats excited to face Handley in season opener
FRONT ROYAL — Warren County is hoping to start a new era of football when it hosts Handley at 7 tonight in the season opener for both teams.
First-year head coach Brian Bush has installed a new offensive scheme, and is hoping to see some excitement from his players this season. The Wildcats suffered through a 3-7 season last year, and the players said they are ready for a change.
Warren County senior quarterback R.J. Keeney said the 24 seniors are trying to take the leadership role with the younger players.
“The seniors are really trying to get the lower classmen up there, really push it,” Keeney said. “This is our first game of the season. We want to come out with a bang and try to change the culture of Warren County.”
Keeney started five games last year at quarterback, throwing for 518 yards and five touchdowns.
Bush said Keeney’s a strong leader for the team.
“He’s taken on that leadership role,” Bush said. “And he’s done a tremendous job at it to get these guys motivated. And the guys that are around him look to him and respond well to him.”
The Wildcats will be running what Bush called a pistol-spread option-read offense.
“It’s a very exciting type of offense,” Bush said. “I think the kids have responded well to it.”
Bush said it will be game to game as to whether the Wildcats will look to run or pass more out of the offense.
Warren County will have plenty of running backs to choose from. Warren County’s top rusher from last season, junior Ronnie Dodson, is back along with seniors Darren Frantz and Cody Petitt.
Dodson ran for 693 yards and last year, while Frantz had 103 yards and two scores.
“We do have depth and throughout these past years it’s been the same guys,” Frantz said. “It’s good competition. So we’re always working as hard as we can. It’s always hard to tell whose going to start each game. You don’t have to worry about if one of us gets injured you still have guys to back them up.”
Bush said he’s been very pleased with his defense in the preseason.
“We’ve got some kids that are in there that are flying around,” Bush said. “And that’s one thing that I enjoy watching from our defense is the whole getting to the ball, 11 hats to the ball and that type of stuff. And being excited when you make a play instead of just moseying around. Because Handley’s going to smack us, we just got to be ready.”
Much like Warren County, Handley has a plethora of seniors.
The Judges are coming off a 2-8 season, which includes a 27-2 victory over Warren County. Handley coach John Davis is in his second year at the helm.
“They’re athletic, big, they do what they do best,” Bush said. “They do it really well. They’ve got some boys that can move, some boys that are strong. And we need to make sure that we as a coaching staff put our players in the right position to be successful. And for our players to be excited and to respond to that athleticism in a positive way.”
Bush said the Judges are big and strong on defense and they are aggressive.
“They like to blitz a lot,” Bush said. “So we need to make sure that our offensive line has our eyes up. And we need to make sure that we pick up the blitz like we’re supposed to.”
Handley senior quarterback Jacob Parker threw for 363 yards and six touchdowns last year. Defensively, Christopher Moten leads the way. He had five sacks last season for the Judges.
Bush said he’s excited for his first game as head coach, and he said he can tell that the players are too.
Keeney said he knows it will be a challenge, but he is confident in the Wildcats.
“I don’t expect it to be a walk in the park,” Keeney said. “But we’re definitely going to go in there fighting, heads held up high. We know we have a chance.”