Warren, St. Marys both have work to do on gridiron

Photo by Jay W. Bennett St. Marys quarterback Luke Powell looks for an open receiver during Tuesday’s 7-on-7 passing scrimmage against Warren at Bill Hanlin Stadium.

ST. MARYS — Things are going to be a lot different this year for the football programs at Warren and St. Marys.

The Warriors of third-year head coach Matt Kimes are coming off an overall 7-2 campaign which saw the school collect its first two postseason victories ever.

Meanwhile, the Blue Devils of head man Jodi Mote went 8-1 in the regular season before earning a COVID-19 forfeit versus Wheeling Central, winning two more playoff games and then collecting the Class A state championship trophy after Ritchie County was forced to forfeit due to Mountain State regulations regarding COVID-19.

The two programs got together on Tuesday for a 7-on-7 passing scrimmage at Bill Hanlin Stadium as both teams near the start of preseason practice on Monday.

“I’ve got four returning starters on defense and two on offense, I think,” admitted Kimes, who plans to have sophomore Trent Taylor under center. “It’s all new kids, but we had six JV games and those kids got experience there and some kids played some varsity ball on special teams or in blowouts.

“We are inexperienced more than anything. We got some first-year seniors out who are going to help out on the depth chart. They don’t know schemes and terminology. We’re teaching. It’s been a challenge.”

Luke Powell will be the expected starting signal-caller for the Blue Devils, who also have plenty of holes to fill.

“We have 10 people on the offensive side of the football that are going to be replaced. We have eight on the defensive side of the football to replace,” said Mote, who has second team all-state two-way lineman Riley Boley returning for his senior campaign.

“Wyatt Norman and Cody Houser were both on the (defensive) line. They will be moved this year, hopefully. They will be skill positions for us this year. On defense, they will still play their positions. Wyatt was a defensive end and Cody a defensive tackle.”

One area where both coaches have been pleased before and during the summer is the work in the weight room.

“We’ve had 22 weeks there,” Mote said. “A great commitment is the best way to put it in the weight room. That in and of itself has been a tremendous positive. We had so many guys in basketball, baseball and wrestling which is a good thing. You try to work around it where you can still work football, but they obviously have things they need to do.

“The 7-on-7s have been the main thing we’ve done. The linemen went to Doddridge County. We had four flex days prior to the three-week period. We just have too many guys in other sports. We try to balance it out.”

Kimes said they’ve actually been able to work with their student-athletes for all of June and July if they opted to.

“Last year with the pandemic and all that it was crazy,” said the Warrior boss. “They said every sport can go as many days as they want through June and July and it was the same this year. It was unlimited.

“It was pretty hectic trying to juggle the multi-sport athletes with everybody wanting to get as much stuff in as they could. The fortunate thing was basketball went heavy in June and I went light in June and they aren’t going much (in July). It worked out pretty good.”

Ongoing construction at Warren also made things a little different this summer.

“I’m super happy with our kids’ attendance and our strength gains this year,” added Kimes, who said they had a little setback with no power in the weight room. “We made a makeshift weight room outside. It’s more like a crossfit type training the last couple of months.

“The kids have kind of enjoyed the change of pace. I feel like from a stamina standpoint we are actually a little ahead from where we were last year because we’ve done more crossfit type training.”

Warren is set to open the season at home on Friday, Aug. 20 when Belpre invades.

The Blue Devils open a week later when Roane County rolls into town.

“I think that can be a safe statement, for sure,” quipped Mote when asked if his team might be playing the role of the underdog a lot this year. “It will be very interesting. That’s the best way to put it.

“Their work ethic has been good. We’ve had some positive signs, bright signs with 7-on-7 and other times we’ve had some challenging times and a lot of stuff to work on. There’s going to be a lot of competition.”

Contact Jay Bennett at jbennett@newsandsentinel.com


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