Woodland football training camp
Coach: Mark Greenleaf, eighth season
2009 record: 7-3 (3-2 2A GSHL)
Every coach wants his more experienced players to lead the way. That becomes even more important when you don’t have many of them.
That is the case at Woodland in 2010, where the first 10 days of practice have required veterans to help newcomers learn the ropes.
“We’re helping the younger kids,” said defensive back Willie Davis, a member of the smallest group of seniors to play football at Woodland for several years.
“Our team is really young,” said Nick Fuller, a junior who was first-team all 2A GSHL as a sophomore and one of the players being asked to lead this season. “We don’t have a lot of people who have played varsity. But we’ve got a lot of good players. They can step up.”
There should be plenty of opportunities for new leaders to emerge. Woodland had success throwing the ball last season, and though coach Mark Greenleaf is looking for better run-pass balance this season, he will want to make the most of some talented receivers.
“As much youth as we have, what we try to do is give them as much as they can mentally and physically handle,” Greenleaf said.
Junior Adam Shoup, the JV QB in 2009, was battling this week with freshman Hunter Huddleston for the quarterback position.
Shoup said the key to success for players young and older to concentrate on learning their assignments.
“It’s about repetitions, getting everything down before you go on to the next thing.” Shoup said.
Greenleaf noted that a small senior class is reality for all smaller schools every few years. Part of the challenge in years like this is getting enough physical work in to develop good habits and make consistent improvement without creating injury problems.
Woodland has three offensive linemen with varsity experience — senior Chase Van Cleef, junior Cody Stewart, and sophomore Zach Lacy.
The defensive secondary is solid. here are enough athletes working at linebacker and defensive line positions, that both Davis and Fuller predicted that this team can follow Woodland’s tradition of solid defensive football.
“I think our defense could be really good this year,” Fuller said.
Davis said the lack of highly-visible veterans might actually work in Woodland’s favor in 2010.
“Our team lacked some unity and we would play as individuals when we had superstars on the team,” Davis said. “Since we don’t really have a star, I’m hoping we can come together as a team. And when we do that we play a lot better.”
The youth around them hasn’t tempered the aspirations for the veterans, who were part of seven wins a season ago, and remember that Woodland won league tiles in 2007 and 2008. They dream of winning a bi-district playoff game.
Davis said it’s different now that he’s a senior starting his final season of football.
“It feels a lot different senior year. It’s the most important thing in my life right now.