Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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July 31, 2012

High school football kicks off with new faces at the helm

PRINCETON — By

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— For the first time in 24 years, a new voice directed players and coaches at the Princeton Senior High School football field on Monday, the first day of preseason varsity practice in both Virginias.

Randy Peek is one of at least four new head football coaches in the region. PikeView, Tazewell and Mount View are also under new leadership going into the season that begins on Aug. 24.

The stress of getting a revamped varsity program ready on three days’ notice was not evident as Peek put the students through their paces, but he said on Monday afternoon, “I haven’t slept, I haven’t eaten.”

Peek was named coach on an interim basis after 23-year head coach Ted Spadaro announced his resignation on Monday of last week.

“The community has been very supportive,” said Peek, who coached Princeton Middle School football before taking a two-year leave from the sidelines. Reporting that his phone has been ringing often, he said, “I am amazed by the interest in high school football.”

Justice Shafer, a senior lineman for the Tigers, said that as he arrived at the stadium on Monday, “I was nervous about how it was going to go. In the short time he’s had, he really pulled it together.”

Bobby Wyatt is also returning to the sidelines. The former Pocahontas and Tazewell coach is directing the PikeView Panthers after being hired in April to fill the vacancy created when Jeff Damewood resigned.

Wyatt said about coaching, “It’s been part of my life for 30 years. I enjoy being around the kids.”

The past several months have helped get players and coaches on the same page, Wyatt said.

“They’ve got to know me; I’ve got to know them,” he said.

At Tazewell, Shane Allen was hired in May to take over the Bulldogs program after Brandon Tate’s resignation. In mid-March the Mount View administration announced the hiring of Todd McCoy to take over the job after Leon Gravely resigned.

At Graham High School, second-year coach Mike Williams urged on about 41 players on Monday afternoon, though the coach said he expects a roster of about 50, “plus or minus, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we picked up one or two more.”

Bluefield High mentor Fred Simon estimated the Beavers would hit the field with “55 to 60 kids.” He responded to being classified as a “veteran” coach with all the transition going on around him.

He said simply, “When you’re a veteran, it means you’ve been here awhile.”

Peek’s title is interim coach, at least for another few days.

The window to apply for the permanent head coaching job is today, he said. Candidates will be interviewed on Wednesday, and it is expected that Princeton principal Jack Parker will make a permanent hiring recommendation at Thursday evening’s meeting of the county board of education.

Monday was also the first day for practice for most other high school sports in both Virginia and West Virginia. Volleyball in West Virginia begins next week.

At the Princeton gym, Patti Smith was supervising cheerleader tryouts. Like Peek, she had worked at Princeton Middle School prior to last year.

“It’s much different at the high school level,” Smith said. “There’s more emphasis on cheerleading as a sport.”

She noted the coincidence that she and Peek were both now at the high school, offering the observation, “He’s a nice guy.”

— Contact Tom Bone at

tbone@bdtonline.com

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