PHOTO: Wyoming East coach Jimmy Adkins became the fifth coach at the school when he was hired in late February. Adkins has confidence in the talent returning for the Warriors this season.
By Dave Morrison
NEW RICHMOND – The losses from Wyoming East’s playoff-qualifying football team of a year ago are more than a little significant.
Gone is first-team all-state lineman Tanner Jenkins, a record-setter in quarterback Seth Ross (1,518 yards passing) the team-leader in tackles in lienbacker Clay Lester (11.8 tpg), the top two receivers in Jake Bishop (524 yards, 8 TDs) and Caden Lookabill (564-6) and several role players (like first-year defensive back McQuade Canada who led the team with six interceptions) that helped Wyoming East end a five-year playoff drought)
They also lost head coach Larry Thompson, who resigned after one year at the helm.
That is a lot to lose after the Warriors 8-3 season.
Yet new coach Jimmy Adkins, an assistant at Wyoming East and a former player at Summers County and then Glenville State, has confidence that his club will be in the thick of things come postseason (assuming there is a season).
“I know we lost a lot of good players, but I think we have a lot of talent coming back,” Adkins said. “I think we are going to be better then people are thinking we are going to be.”
Back are record-setting running back Caleb Bower (2,034 yards, 26 touchdowns), linebacker/running back Chase York, the team’s third-leading tackler Dakota McBride (6.9 tpg) and fourth-leading tackler – who will also get the first shot at the vacant QB job – Brandon Simpson and one of the area’s top linemen in center Josh Reilley and OT Charlie Stewart, a sophomore who could end up in Hunt Award discussions by the time his career is over.
Bower again will be a workhorse for the Warriors.
“Caleb has had a heck of a high school career (3,342 yards and 39 touchdowns) and he is not done yet,” Adkins said. “Teams are going to be keying on him. We have to figure ways to get him in space.”
York was having a great start to his junior year but it was interrupted in the middle by injury.
Perhaps the most intriguing move is Simpson moving to quarterback.
It gives Wyoming East a weapon it hasn’t had for several years, mobility at the quarterback spot. He won’t be the passer Ross was but Adkins sees the positive of having a mobile guy behind center.
“He’s really kind of flown under the radar,” Adkins said. “In the past few years we have had outstanding quarterbacks but they were pocket passers. I think having that mobility in that position, where he can just take off when things break down, will give us an added weapon.”
Offensively, Simpson had nine carries for 48 yards and four receptions for 60 yards last fall.
Adkins said Simpson wants the job and has taken the initiative during the COVID-19 pandemic to work on the skills needed to take over the spot.
“He has been calling me all summer, talking about working on his footwork, passing,” Adkins said. “He told me from Day 1 saying he wants to be the quarterback. That told me a lot about him as a player.”
A lot of pressure will be on the offensive line, Reilley along with Stewart and junior Charlie Price will be big on that front.
“We will be young up front but we will be big and physical,” Adkins said.
Adkins has also hired his assistant coaching staff.
Both Brandon Peck (OL-DL coach) and Marc Schofield (defensive coordinator) are back from last year and former head coach Gary Poindexter is returning to the staff to assist Adkins with the offense and coach the quarterbacks.
Also back from last year is assistant Jeremy Bower and strength and conditioning coaches Todd Reilley and Taylor Smith.
Scott Cook, like Todd Reilley a Wyoming County deputy and Wyoming County’s school resources officer at Wyoming East, will also be an assistant coach.
The Warriors open the season Aug. 28 at rival Westside.