TAZEWELL, Va. — It’s time, says Bobby Wyatt, to focus on the now.

“Our confidence is 100 percent above what it was at the end of last year,” noted Wyatt, on the eve of the Bulldogs’ non-district season opener at George Wythe Friday.

Tazewell dropped a 48-6 decision last year to the Maroons.

“I’m excited and the players are, too,” said Wyatt, as he begins his fifth season as the Bulldogs’ head coach. Tazewell is hoping to turn around a two-game losing skein to Wythe and repeat their success of two years ago at the Wytheville campus when they earned a 37-7 victory.

An increased roster featuring about 50 players has enabled the Tazewell coaches to play only a handful of starters both ways. The influx of Pocahontas performers is another bonus likely to help the Dogs on both sides of the ball.

George Wythe is a formidable opponent, returning a host of veteran players and one of the preseason favorites in the Hogoheegee District. Long-time coach Donnie Pruett is known to favor a quick-strike offense and his GW teams are usually strong on defense, as well.

“Coach Pruitt has another very good team,” said Wyatt. “They have been impressive in the preseason scrimmages and they certainly were against us last year.”

Wyatt says the Maroon offense, keyed by quarterback Jacob Sharitz (5-10, 180 pound, jr) and speedy running back Tristan Boysaw (6-1, 180. jr.) can move the ball downfield in a hurry.

“Sharitz has a fine arm and he can really throw the ball. It looks like, if necessary, the passing game can carry them (GW) so we will have to be ready for a wide-open attack.”

Massive 6-foot-4, 284-pound Drew Lester anchors the Wythe defensive line, and Wyatt said, “Lester is very quick, and has great pursuit on defense.”

Tazewell will open in the spread offense, with quarterback Cody Lockhart pulling the trigger as a quartet of receivers including Matt Muncy, Corey Beavers, Colton Cook, and Brandon Pauley, among others, will be available, while Dustin Dean will be the primary running back.

Freshman Shaquille McDonald, at 5-8, 317 pounds, has been solid in the preseason with strength and quickness and is slated to the middle in the middle on defense with veteran like Andrew Rhudy around him.

Wyatt is also pleased with the early play of Cody Parnell, who has good speed, quality pass-catching hands, and an eagerness to make the good play.

There is a possibility that T.J. Rasnick will get some playing time, and Wyatt is also hoping that Zach Pauley will see quite a bit of action for the Bulldogs.

Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m., with radio coverage on 107.7 FM.

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