Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

July 31, 2012

Players hit the field

PRINCETON — There were several no-shows, and there were a couple of newcomers on the field at Hunnicutt Stadium in Princeton on Monday morning.

As the Princeton Senior High football program adjusts to life after Ted Spadaro, that was to be expected.

Interim head coach Randy Peek said during the team’s lunch break, “We got some kids we didn’t expect to come out. ... It makes me feel great. We need them and they need us.”

He had a list of 12 players who were fitted for helmets but were not present Monday, the first day of varsity sports practice in both Virginias. He had hopes they would claim their headgear but was moving forward with the Tigers, with 58 players already on the field.

Spadaro, who coached Princeton for 23 years, resigned last Monday. But he didn’t leave his successor in the lurch. Peek said Spadaro visited with him Friday at the stadium.

“Coach Spadaro was a big help,” Peek said. “I think it was the most relaxed I’ve seen him in years. ... It was like a weight was lifted off his shoulders — and put on me.”

Peek said about Monday’s practice, “The kids have been positive.”

The team includes players who Peek coached two years ago at Princeton Middle School, and new teammates from Glenwood Middle School. One of those is running back-slot receiver Brett Carroll.

“We fit in well with the Princeton [Middle] kids,” Carroll said. “It’s nothing new. It’s football.”

Teammate Derek Poszich said, “We’re all ‘Princeton kids’ now.”

Meanwhile, up the Turnpike in Gardner, Bobby Wyatt was in his first day putting the PikeView Panthers through their paces. In fact, the 38 players and their coaches finished their morning work ahead of schedule.

“Right now, it’s just about getting everybody going in the right direction,” he said. “I’ve been in it [football] so long, I’m used to having curves thrown at me.”

“The kids seem to be excited,” he said. “Everybody’s working together.”

He said that since he got the job in April, “Mark Godfrey, the athletic director, has been very helpful. The administration has just been outstanding ... guiding things along.”

The Panthers will run the power-I offense that Wyatt prefers.

“Getting familiar with my formations and alignment is not that difficult, but being different, it’s a change to get used to,” Wyatt said.

Senior guard Josh Cox said, “Everybody was ready to get off to a good start together. ... We’re responding really well. It’s a whole new coaching philosophy. As a team, we’re getting used to it, but overall we’re doing really well.”

He said when he reported in, “I was excited, but it was kind of bittersweet ’cause it’s my last year. But I was ready, because as a team, I think we’re going to do good this year.”

Graham head coach Mike Williams was already putting in plays — and having his 41 available players run them over and over until they were right — at the practice field beside the high school.

“We’ve got a ways to go, a lot of things to work on,” he said. “Hopefully, in the next three weeks we’ll be ready to go.”

There have been some pleasant surprises already. “We’ve had some guys who’ve gone from not being on the radar, to being possibly starters,” he said. “They’ve all improved in the off-season on some level.”

The differences between his first practice at Graham last August and this year’s group are significant, he said.

“They know our expectations well,” he said. “They are physically and mentally prepared for the rigors of the preseason and the games.”

Fred Simon, head coach of the Bluefield Beavers, voiced a similar theme prior to putting 55 to 60 players through Monday afternoon’s practice.

“We’ve worked hard all summer,” he said. “This is part of a continuing process.”

“It’s early, but we’ve got some decent talent. If that talent learns how to play together, we’re going to be fine.”

He said there have been changes in the Beavers’ coaching staff. Don Jones, Jason Goodman and Marty Cowger are new assistant coaches. Volunteers helping the effort include Jim Bailey, Teddy Coppolo and Rusty Hubbard.

“It’s been going very well so far,” Simon said.

The season begins for Bluefield and Graham with their annual showdown at Mitchell Stadium on Aug. 24.

— Contact Tom Bone at

tbone@bdtonline.com

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