Sherando Football Camp Notebook: Seniors big key to Warriors this season

Sherando's JoJo Doleman walks across the field during practice this week. Doleman is one of 19 seniors on the squad this season. Rich Cooley/Daily

STEPHENS CITY – Sherando has a strong group of 19 seniors, which head football coach Bill Hall is planning to rely on heavily this season.

Hall said that it’s a special group to him personally since Hall’s son, Will, is one of them.

“There’s a special connection that I’ve had with those guys just from a standpoint of I’ve seen them as little teeny kids all the way up through,” Bill Hall said on Tuesday afternoon. “It’s a good group. That group contributed significantly as sophomores. So they’ve been around our program for a while now. So they’re a special group of guys that I think are doing a good job of leading.”

Many of the starters played key roles in last year’s 12-3 season, which ended in the Class 4 state semifinals. The experience the seniors bring should be a big positive for the team as they try to advance back to the state playoffs.

Hall said each season the leadership of the seniors play a huge role in how well the team will do.

Sherando quarterback Hunter Entsminger runs on a keeper play during practice this week. Rich Cooley/Daily

“Ever year your senior group has to define this season for themselves and I think they’re doing a good job of that,” Bill Hall said. “And they’re not resting on their laurels of past people’s success. Tradition dictates a standard of excellence and I think those guys are living up to that. But again you have to do that every day. So we’re not happy right now and those guys understand that how they do in practice this afternoon will be how good we are right now.”

FITTING RIGHT IN: Sherando lost two starters from last year’s offensive line, including Isaiah Allen who decided not to play football in his senior year.

Joining seniors Nick Corbit, Daniel Boespflug and Joel Santmier on the starting offensive line will be sophomore Keith Gouveia and senior Jacob Raymond. Will Hall returns as starting tight end. Bill Hall said he’s been pleased with what he’s seen from his offensive line so far.

“I think our front is as good as we’ve been,” Bill Hall said. “I don’t think we have the depth yet that we want, which is one thing you’re working on daily to establish is the depth, so people are ready when their number’s called. The front as a whole, as a unit, they work very well together. And I think that group is a tight-knit group. So I think they kind of feed off of each other and I think they take pride in that they’re the engine behind everything that we do. And they understand that we’re only going to be as successful as the success that they have together as a group.”

The Warriors will also be replacing some key cogs in the secondary, but Bill Hall said that he still feels good about what the group can do this year.

“Anytime there’s a position group where you’re replacing a lot of your people there are some growing pains with that,” Bill Hall said. “But they’re very talented on the backend so it’s just about us coaching them up.”

Bill Hall said Malachi Doleman will return at cornerback. Senior T.J. Washington saw limited time at cornerback due to playing on offense. Bill Hall said both Washington and Nick Mazza will split time at cornerback so they don’t get too tired going both ways.

Junior Jabril Hayes is among three players who will have a lot of playing time at safety this season.

“He would do a lot of reps just to give (2018 Sherando graduate Aaron) Banks a break in practice, just for his legs,” Bill Hall said of Hayes. “So Jabril got a lot of reps in practice although he didn’t see a lot of field reps he saw a lot of practice reps last year.”

Sophomore Chacai Campbell and senior Cannon Varnau will also see time at safety.

READY FOR ACTION: Bill Hall said he always expects a lot out of his players, so he’s never satisfied with how the preseason goes, but overall he thought it was good as they gear up for Friday’s season-opening clash at James Wood.

“It’s not a reflection on those guys as much as the expectations that we have around here and how as good as it is we just keep upping the ante to get better,” he said. “I think it’s been good our guys have had a good mindset now. I’ve been pleased, but again it’s that urgency to get better all the time.”

Bill Hall said that it helps his offense a lot to have senior quarterback Hunter Entsminger back for his third year as the starter. Entsminger threw for 2,736 yards and 33 touchdowns with just six interceptions on 164 for 238 passing.

When you have someone like Hunter running the show for the third year now, it’s just a lot of things that he can do that you just kind of take for granted,” Bill Hall said. “And when he’s not in there and we have Chacai (Campbell) in there it runs differently. That’s not a knock on Chacai it’s just that he doesn’t have the thousands of reps that Hunter has.”