WEST UNION-If the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission ever elects to expand the present 16-team high school playoff format, look for Doddridge County head coach Bobby Burnside to be 'all in' for it.
That's because Burnside and his Bulldogs are coming off back-to-back winning seasons that ended in disappointment because they did not earn enough bonus points to slip into the 16 teams that make up the Class A field.
"We've just got to get better," Burnside said. "We've got to continue to win as many ballgames as we can and hope that, with our schedule, it is enough to earn us a spot in the playoff field."
The green and gold are coming off of a 7-3 performance in 2013, including a second place finish in the Little Kanawha Conference's Class A division to St. Marys, but will have to replace a number of players from the offensive line as well as senior quarterback David Lipscomb.
"We've got some holes to fill," said the coach. "We've got several spots on the offensive line and we have to find someone to replace our quarterback. But, I like what I've seen so far this summer and I feel like we have the players here to replace the ones we lost."
At quarterback, look for senior Christian Arbogast to replace Lipscomb, who completed 52-of-100 attempts for 617 yards and six touchdowns last fall.
The offensive front, however, continues to be a work in progress.
"We've been working at putting in our basic offense and working on fundamentals," said Burnside. "We have some pretty good leadership back and we return our entire backfield and that will help."
Especially when one of those is all-LKC running back Wyatt Ford.
The senior-to-be is coming off of a junior campaign that witnessed the 180-pounder rush for 1,629 yards and score 15 touchdowns on 280 carries. Also returning will be junior Clayton Lagasse (39-162) and Brandon Stewart (23-133, 3 TD).
Another threat will be senior Brandon Smith, who placed second in the 100 meter dash at the state track and field championships.
"We feel like we have three solid backs returning and we have some new faces, like Hunter Riffle and Brandon Smith, that we are excited to see what they can do."
Riffle, who won the 3200 meter run at the state track meet, is being looked at in the secondary on defense and at wide receiver on offense while Smith, in only his second year with the football program, will look to add his name to the depth chart at both positions.
For now, and until the close of the three-week period, Burnside and his staff will look to work with the 20-30 players that show up daily for the workouts.
"The first week we were averaging in the mid-30s every day," said the coach. "Week two we were averaging in the mid-20s because we have several kids that also play basketball and baseball. When we start practice in August, we are expecting to have around 40 show up."