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Bethel excited to get started
By dave johnson
email@example.com | 247-4649
HAMPTON — All that prep work is over. Wednesday afternoon meant the first official day of football practice, so after months of getting ready, new Bethel coach Jeff Nelson finally could get his players on the field.
"Going out and coaching, that’s the fun part of it," Nelson said. "All the other stuff is just buildup."
NBA star Allen Iverson, who led Bethel to the 1992 state football championship as a quarterback, made a surprise visit and gave the Bruins a pep talk. But even before the Answer showed up, Nelson couldn’t wait to get started. With a team that returns several key players from last season’s under achieving team, he is excited about the possibilities.
Although Wednesday was the first day VHSL teams were allowed to begin drills, not every team got started. Phoebus, the defending Group AAA Division 5 champion, plans to begin Monday. Hampton, which went undefeated in the district in 2006 but lost in the first round of the playoffs, will start either later this week or Monday.
Under VHSL rules, teams must get in at least 15 days of practice — but no more than 20 — before the season opener. The Peninsula District schedule begins Aug. 30.
Nelson, who was 0-10 in his one season as a head coach at Group AA Bluestone, will spend the next several days evaluating what he has.
There are known commodities, like tailback Jontel Evans (1,344 yards in 2006) and twin linebackers Tyler and Trent Blowe. But there are also a lot of question marks.
"You can have a kid who looks good and does really well in the weight room," Nelson said. "But you don’t know about him until he gets out on the field and goes against the kid lined up across from him."
The players are also getting to know Nelson. And they’ve seen a change.
"There’s been a lot more discipline in the weight room than we had before," Tyler Blowe said. "Not as much playing around as we did last year. And there’s been more energy and enthusiasm."
The 2006 season was a disappointment for the Bruins, who started 4-2 but then lost their final four games. On defense, the Bruins were nearly as dominant as Hampton and Phoebus — at least statistically speaking. The Bruins gave up only 179 yards a game, second only to the Crabbers’ 178.9.
Bethel’s biggest problem was an offense that averaged 11.9 points a game and didn’t have a single passing touchdown all season.
"Last year, we had two sophomores at quarterback, and both of them are back this year," Trent Blowe said. "It’s important they step up and lead the program."
Everybody has question marks in August. Phoebus must rebuild a starting backfield that accounted for 3,085 yards and
40 touchdowns last season. Hampton is replacing quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who led the Crabbers to the state title in 2005, with senior Matthew Mitchell.
Denbigh lost 20 seniors, including its starting quarterback, running back and best lineman. Woodside lost 25 seniors, including three-time 1,000-yard back Joacim Wigfall.
Warwick returns several key players from last year
’s 5-5 team, while Kecoughtan lost a lot but welcomes back fullback/linebacker Derek Mayo.
Heritage will rely on quarterback Lawrence Turner, while Gloucester hopes to improve on last year’s 1-9 season behind QB Tommy Reamon Jr.
Meanwhile, Menchville hopes to build on the momentum of breaking a 27-game PD losing streak by beating Gloucester in last season’s finale. «
Last edited by Dave Johnson : 08-02-2007 at 10:24 AM.
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