Friday, August 10, 2012

Shuttling Forward: Clarke County heads into the season with lots of holes to fill


 BERRYVILLE — The Clarke County football team found itself going in a lot of different directions Monday.
Just to make it to both sessions of their first day of practice, players had to meet and get themselves ready at their new high school, walk over, practice for three hours, take a shuttle bus back to the new school for their two-hour break, take the bus back for the second session, then walk back after their next two hours of practice were over.

The players said it wasn’t a big deal. But once the season gets going, it will be a big deal if they’re constantly going back and forth and not all going in the direction they want.

“We lost a lot last year from the [senior c la ss ], ” Clarke County senior running back Davey Hardesty said. “But we have a lot of people filling in. Hopefully they can fill the shoes of those people, and we can be right back to where we were last year, and maybe do better and get a district championship like we hope.”

JEFF TAYLOR/ The Winchester Star
Clarke County head football coach Chris Parker talks to his players during the first day of football practice on Monday. Parker’s team should have solid numbers this season with 70 players reporting for Mond ay’s first practice session.

Clarke County, which had 70 players out Monday and expects to add a few more, returns just four starters on both offense and defense from a team that went a solid 7-4 last year, but also lost in the Eastern Section Division 2 first round and had its four- year reign as Bull Run District champions snapped.

Filling Alex Sefton’s shoes adequately is an important step in going in the right direction. Though Sefton — who will play for Hampden-Sydney College this fall — was a standout tight end and punter, it was on defense at middle linebacker where he made the most noise. He made an area-high 148 tackles and earned Bull Run District Defensive Player of the Year honors.

Junior Josh Dulaney made 27 tackles as Sefton’s primary backup last year, and he’s one of the players who the Eagles will look to at that spot this year.

“Last year he took me under his wing and taught me everything he knew,” Dulaney said. “ I hope I follow in his footsteps.”

Dulaney said it doesn’t matter to him if he gets most of the tackles — all he cares about is getting the win. But the middle linebacker position at Clarke County definitely lends itself to being in the middle of the action. Sefton made 110 tackles as a junior in 2010, and the year before that Jeremy Rhoads piled up 176 tackles from that position.

“He has worked hard, and worked hard in the weight room,” said Parker of Dulaney, who went to a camp this summer at Penn State. “He’s totally into what we’re doing, and I expect big things out of him.”

Others players who might play big roles at linebacker this year are junior Andy King and senior Eric Stewart.

With Drew Paice having graduated, Stewart is also in the hunt to play quarterback, though sophomore Sean McDonald figures to get a long look from the coaching staff to get the nod there.

Much like last year when the Eagles were a little undersized, expect them to utilize speed.

“We have a lot of fast linemen and fast backs,” Hardesty said.

Clarke County junior linebacker Andy King rolls down the line, hitting the blocking sled during drills at the Eagles’ first practice of the season on Monday. King could play a big role for the Eagles, filling the void at linebacker. 
Photo by Jeff Taylor / Winchester Star

AREA FOOTBALL NOTE: James Wood football coach Mike Bolin said at his team’s practice Monday night that senior wide receiver T. J. Bruce has transferred to Millbrook. Bruce ranks first among the area’s returning receivers in catches from last year with 29, and he also had 389 yards and three touchdowns.

— Contact Robert Niedzwiecki at

Reprinted with permission Copyright © 2012 Winchester Star 07/31/2012

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