GLENVILLE - A few plays here and a few plays there could've made a major difference for the Glenville State College football team last year.
No one knows that any better than senior defensive end James Washington, who earned first team all-West Virginia Conference accolades a season ago.
"There wasn't any losses where we were getting blown out," said Washington, a 6-foot-3 product of Bowie High School in Maryland who spent a year at Milford Academy in New Berlin, N.Y., before heading to Glenville.
Photo by Jay W. Bennett
Glenville State College defensive end James Washington, pictured here taking a quick break during the first day of practice, is hoping to help the Pioneers challenge for a West Virginia Conference football championship this season.
"We were in every game and just lost focus and came up short, but this year I think as more seniors step up and talk I think we'll be good. It definitely motivates us because of all those losses where we had it."
Head coach David Hutchison's first season at the helm of the G-men produced a 5-6 mark, which included going 0-3 versus non-conference opponents.
Washington had quite the junior campaign. Not only did he finish third on the team with 55 tackles, but he also led the Pioneers with 12.5 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, five quarterback hurries and four forced fumbles. His sack total placed him in a tie for 17th in all of Division II in sacks per game.
As far as being picked to finish sixth in the preseason by league coaches Washington noted, "that's just motivation for us. That's just people talking, but we are out here working. You rank us sixth. We just have to prove them wrong."
Washington does have one WVIAC championship ring from the Pioneers' 2008 title squad and he's anxious to have one more shot at another.
Despite being hours from home and living in small rural Gilmer County, Washington has adjusted quite well since the first time he arrived on campus.
"Honestly, whenever my father was driving me here, I was thinking where am I going because I thought I was going to like a college, a big college town and stuff," he admitted.
"But, no, Glenville is great though. They show a lot of support to the football players. It's a small school and you can focus on your work. I don't regret coming here. I don't regret it at all."
Just 15 credit hours short of finishing his sports management degree, Washington hopes that will become a reality in May.
Washington spent the summer attempting to make his quick frame even faster and trying to improve upon his run defense.
"My pass rush is pretty good," he said. "I worked on that, too, and just tried to get my speed up and my explosion right."
The biggest key for the G-men this season according to Washington is for the seniors and underclassmen to jell together and for his senior class to lead as a whole, not individually, and build team chemistry as the season progresses.
Obviously, Washington is hoping to win that ring and then hopefully have a shot to continue his career somewhere on the next level after his senior year.
"I'm hoping that I just help my team get the wins and be a leader out there," Washington added. "Hopefully, God will bless me after this season.
"The Pioneer family has treated me great and this is my home for life. I love Glenville to be honest. I really do."