Warren County Football Notebook: Post more confident, comfortable in Year 2 as starting QB

Warren County head coach Brian Bush speaks to his team during a recent practice. Rich Cooley/Daily

FRONT ROYAL – Bryce Post spent all summer studying game film from Warren County’s 2017 football season, mostly because he was excited for the approaching 2018 campaign, he said on Monday, but also because, as the Wildcats’ starting quarterback, he needed to have a better grasp of reading opposing defenses.

Post, a sophomore who took over as Warren County’s starting QB in the third game last fall, entered the Wildcats’ preseason camp at the end of July looking like a player better acclimated to the role, head coach Brian Bush said.

“He’s more confident and more comfortable with the offense,” Bush said, adding that Post is also making more ‘wow’ plays and committing fewer mistakes. “Last year when he was just starting he was just trying to get his feet wet and learn the speed of the game, where now he’s looking past step one of the offense and trying to evaluate what’s going on pre-snap, post-snap, things like that. Having a sophomore at quarterback being able to do that is huge.”

The importance of understanding what the defense was trying to do before each snap was one of the biggest lessons Post learned last season, he said. Bush said on Monday the quarterback has made “big-time” progress in that department, adding that showcasing a sharper ability to make pre-snap reads has been one of Post’s “growth moments.”

“Last year he was an athlete and he could throw a ball, but last year at this moment I’d … try to get him to point out this is what coverage they’re in and he’d struggle through it,” Bush said. “Now he’s telling me. He’s almost quizzing me and it’s nice to see.”

And it isn’t just that Post has been busy adding to his football smarts. He’s also made it a point to increase his leadership role after willingly taking a backseat to the team’s veteran players a year ago.

“I’ve definitely been a lot more vocal this year,” said Post, one of just four returning offensive starters from a season ago. “Last year … I didn’t wanna jump ahead of where I was at, I guess. I still played my role of being a little freshman. This year I step up a little bit more, talk a little more.”

Post, listed at 5-foot-10, 205 pounds, completed 46 of 95 passes (48.4 percent) for 923 yards, nine touchdowns and four interceptions last season while also rushing for 114 yards and three TDs.

He’ll have a new crop of receivers to throw to this season after the graduations of a pair of big-play threats in Jacob Good and Ben Vogt, who combined for 1,159 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns in 2017. Seniors Ethan Patterson and Brodie Cripps and sophomores Marion Haley and Logan DeHaven will step into more prominent roles for the Wildcats at receiver this year.

“It’s going good,” Post said of building chemistry with his new targets. “We go out there every day and work on it. Every single practice we go full speed. Just really focusing on the connection because it is different. You have younger players who have to step up big.”

STRONG UP FRONT: In addition to filling the void at receiver, Warren County has also had to find new pieces on a defense that lost six starters. The one area that hasn’t been affected by roster turnover is the defensive line.

All four starters – defensive ends Jordan Kenyon and Aaron Schroyer and defensive tackles Jake DiPatre and Knorr Hunter Jr. – from last year’s unit return up front, providing the Wildcats with an all-senior group that Bush said has been a strength this preseason.

“Our four d-linemen, we’re nice,” Kenyon said. “We try to take it upon ourselves, really push ourselves out there, get the ‘D-nasty’ going. We got younger linebackers like Russell (Rowe) and Patrick (Coffron) and … we’ve just gotta push them, you know.”

The play of that veteran defensive front, Bush said, is key to the development of Warren County’s more inexperienced defenders, particularly Coffron and Rowe, a pair of juniors tasked with filling the holes left by the graduation of linebackers Jacob Dodson and Josh Edwards in the Wildcats’ 4-2-5 scheme.

Bush said the playing experience of Dodson and Edwards last season allowed those two to make offensive linemen miss and still make plays when Warren County’s defensive linemen failed to keep their linebackers clean. The Wildcats don’t have the luxury of that veteran experience in the middle of its defense this season, at least not yet.

“This year we’re sort of grooming these new linebackers and it all starts up front. If those veterans up front can sort of take care of their job and keep the (offensive) line off of the linebackers, it’ll be easier for our linebackers to grow and to get better,” Bush said. “But if they’re getting smacked every play then, well, it’s gonna be tough. It’s a huge key for us this year.”

FINDING ENERGY: Warren County opens the season with a 1 p.m. contest at Handley on Saturday, and Bush said the Wildcats still need to find a consistent source of energy “at all times.” That’s an area Bush has emphasized since being named head coach in May 2017.

“Last year we had quite a few kids that could make big plays, quite a few kids that will jump around and get excited and get everybody else excited,” Bush said. “This year we sort of have a little more quieter-type bunch and I wanted to see who was gonna get that ball rolling of ‘hey, when something big happens let’s all corral around them and get excited and get excited to play this game.’ That was my biggest thing. I think in the Fluvanna scrimmage (last Friday) we did a decent job at that but we can improve. And I think we found a couple pieces, a couple players that will be able to fit into certain roles, which is nice.”

Bush added that DiPatre, a unanimous pick for one of the team’s captain spots, Coffron, senior running back Ronnie Dodson and Post have been among those who have stepped up as hype men for the Wildcats this preseason.

“We’ve just gotta bring it all together. We’ve got a few athletes and we’ve some players now, we’ve just gotta go out there and have some fun,” Bush said. “That’s what I wanna see.”