FRONT ROYAL — Warren County has taken two tough losses to start the season, but the Wildcats haven’t let it bring them down.
Warren County head football coach Brian Bush said that the team has stayed positive heading into today’s game at first-year school Independence at 7 p.m. The Wildcats lost to two strong squads in Handley and Timber Creek (N.J.) in the first two games of the year.
“We’re positive, energized,” Bush said before Wednesday’s practice. “Playing against Handley and Timber Creek got us excited to play the next few games, the rest of the season, because those two teams are top-notch, very skillful, very athletic.”
The Wildcats (0-2) lost by a combined score of 106-7 in the first two games. Warren County junior quarterback Bryce Post said the team understands that playing such good competition has made them a better team, despite the lopsided scores.
“I think it helps a lot because we’re getting the best competition we have,” Post said. “It makes us better. Every play against those teams, no matter the outcome, we got better going against that competition.”
Bush said he’s seen some real positives from his defense. He said last week the defense showed some real improvements and he expects them to get better with each game.
“Defensively, the first game against Handley we sort of got a little tired,” Bush said. “We started off the game well. Towards the end we sort of got a little tired. We weren’t getting all 11 helmets to the ball. Against Timber Creek we averaged about nine players to the ball each play on defense. And that’s exactly what I want to see. The play is not over until the whistle blows, so we need everybody there because with Independence they have that quarterback. He’s not going to be brought down easy. If we can get multiple guys there to bring him down, it’s going to help us.”
Independence sophomore quarterback Brian Courtney is the key to his team’s offense. In a 53-42 loss to Skyline on Aug. 28, Courtney ran for 223 yards on 26 carries and had five rushing touchdowns. Courtney also threw for 219 yards on 11-for-19 passing and one passing touchdown.
Bush said that it should help his defense that they faced two talented quarterbacks in their first two games, but Courtney will be a definite challenge for his squad.
“He looks to be a leader when things are going tough,” Bush said. “He sort of manages the game well. And will stick it in there and he’s not afraid of contact. We’ve got to be prepared and we’ve got to know that if we’re meeting him in the hole, he’s a load to bring down. He’s not going to sit there and break us down, he’s going to run us over. So we’ve got to be prepared for that.”
Bush said that the Tigers (0-2) have a solid defense that will also pose a threat to Warren County on offense.
“They fly around,” Bush said of Independence’s defense. “They just want to hit. They want to play the game of football. And the thing is if one gets tired, another one comes in and they don’t skip a beat. So it’s not like we’re looking for that substitution to go after. They sub one guy out and the next guy comes in and does just as well.”
Even though the Wildcats have only scored seven points in two games, Bush said he has seen improvements. The Wildcats have a young and inexperienced offensive line and Bush said they have made strides over the last few weeks and are getting better and better.
Post has thrown for 161 yards on 10-for-26 passing for the Wildcats. Post said he sees the passing game getting better with each week.
“It’s been pretty good,” Post said of the passing game. “The more reps, the more practice, the more we throw the ball around, we’ll just keep getting better and better.”
Bush said he knows what it’s like to be going through what Independence, which has no seniors in the school, is going through right now. Bush said he graduated from Hidden Valley High School, located in Roanoke, and his freshman year was the first year for the school.
“I feel like I know what they’re going through on a personal standpoint,” Bush said. “But you know it’s exciting when you’re able to start a program and be a part of that. It shows in the way they play. They don’t let one thing detour them from their game plan. They stick with it.”
Both teams are searching for their first win of the season. Post said the Wildcats are excited about the game and to face another quality opponent.
“I’m expecting a close game, a good game,” he said. “It’s going to be good competition for both teams. Both started off the season rough. But we’re both going to be coming out hard for that first win because we know that one of us has to get it.”