By Dave Morrison
There is no replacement for experience other than experience itself.
Westside and Liberty both enter their opener Friday at Glen Daniel without a boatload of experience.
Westside is particularly young and inexperienced, losing most of its offense.
Changes abound at Renegades camp and may not be done heading into game-week preparation.
Westside still is trying to sort out its backfield situation after two scrimmages.
“I watched Westside film against Shady (in the first scrimmage) and then we went down and saw their scrimmage against Tug Valley and I could tell they are young,” Liberty coach Mark Workman said. “They lost a lot of outstanding seniors. When you lose that type of experience it is hard to overcome.”
The Renegades’ offensive losses have been pointed out over the summer and here’s another bit of knowledge heading into the Renegades trip to Glen Daniel Friday: Nobody who scored against the Raiders in last year’s 28-7 Westside win over returns this season.
Westside rushed for 325 yards and had 445 yards of total offense in that game against Liberty and only 25 yards from that team returns.
The backfield is still a work in progress for the Renegades.
Dylan McComas and Ethan Stewart were slated to be in the backfield but late in the preseason Isaac Mosley started playing himself into a bigger role in the offense. Freshman Blake Goode could also end up seeing time in the backfield.
The most experienced Renegade is quarterback Bradie Vance, who did not start last season but made four starts at the end of his sophomore.
Halsey will lean on Vance at least early on.
“We had more success passing the ball than we did running the ball (in the Renegades last scrimmage against Tug Valley last Friday in Clear Fork),” coach Herbie Halsey said. “I think Bradie needs to focus more on the shorter routes, he tends to lean on those long throws, and he does do that well. But a couple times we went underneath, we had success moving the football.”
Daniel Reed and Jace Colucci will be targets.
Workman’s Raiders are strong up front. He said the team will rely on three solid senior linemen, Frankie Vanover (6-foot-4, 304 pounds), Elijah Hatcher (6-2, 270) and Elijah Brown (6-0, 285).
“We are going to lean on those guys, they are experienced and I’m glad to have them in front of our young backs,” Workman, a former all-state lineman/fullback at Marsh Fork.
Liberty returns sophomore running back Isaac Atkins, who opened his career with a 117 yards, one touchdown performance against Westside in what proved to be his best game of the year during the Raiders 0-10 season.
He is back and will be the Raiders feature back.
The rest will be done by committee, with Chase Thompson seeing time along with freshman Logan Dodrill.
Workman is high on the freshman, saying the 5-foot-8, 168-pound Dodrill will also play defense and will be the team’s punter and kicker.
Ian Sloan won the quarterback job in the preseason after not playing most of last season and last year’s starter Braeden Howell has moved to wide receiver and will be the backup QB.
“I saw them on film and I thought they had some good skill guys and at least one big old lineman (Vanover) who looks like he is going to be a load to handle,” Halsey said.
Workman said he expects the game to be a physical battle.
“Absolutely this will be a physical ball game and it always is,” Workman said. “We’ve played this opener the last few seasons and it seems like the team that wins it generally goes on to have a pretty good season.”
Westside won the game last season and went 6-4.
“My guys will get after it, we will be physical,” Halsey said. “But we’ve been playing passive. My inside linebackers can’t stand there and wait for the play to come to them. By that time it’s a five-yard gain. They have to go after the ball. Make mistakes by being aggressive, don;
‘t make mistakes from being passive is something I’ve always believed.”
The annual Coal Shovel game between Westside and Wyoming East is next for the Renegades on Aug. 31 while Liberty will be at Oak Hill the same night.