MADISON – One problem with building a perennial playoff contender is that each season brings high expectations.
But veteran Scott High School football Coach Shane Griffith admits he feels the same hopes for the 2014 season.
“I’m excited and there’s no way to hide it,” said Griffith. “I challenged these young guys to put forth an extra effort since last season and they’ve stepped forward even more than I had hoped.”
Add to that enthusiasm the fact that a huge number of players came out for the opening practices and you have the ingredients for what Griffith calls “a turnaround year for us.”
The coach knows Skyhawk fans expect perfection and he doesn’t feel any different. “We know what people think of when they think Scott football,” said Griffith. “They know we like to knock people around and win the tough ones. That’s what we intend to do in 2014.”
Griffith admittedly was disappointed with last season’s losing record. “We tried to change the way we play offense,” he said. “It didn’t work. Fans are going to see the old Skyhawk offense this year, I’ll guarantee that.”
Playing in the always-tough Cardinal Conference presents its own challenges but local fans will have an opportunity to see all the Cardinal teams in pre-season. The second annual Cardinal Conference Grid-o-Rama was set for August 16 at Scott High’s field.
The Skyhawks were set to line up in a scrimmage with Mingo Central at 8 p.m. Four separate controlled-scrimmage contests were planned.
Griffith admitted fans will not see everything the Hawks have to offer in a scrimmage. “But I still think they’ll like what they see,” he said before the grid-o-rama. “We want to build the excitement level.”
On August 29, the team kicks off its regular season at home against Herbert Hoover. The Huskies have presented real problems for the Hawks in recent seasons and Scott is out for revenge this time out.
On September 5, the Hawks travel to Hamlin to meet Class AAA Lincoln County, often the doormat of Triple A. In fact, the Panthers did not record a win last season. Still, Griffith expects tough competition “especially when they’re at home.” Wins over AAA teams account for more points in computer rankings for the playoffs, so Griffith notes that a win at Hamlin “would be a big deal for us.”
On September 12, Corridor G rival Chapmanville Regional comes to Madison. The two schools, located within ten miles of each other, have a fierce rivalry and often the tone of entire seasons is set in this contest. Then, a week later, Scott travels to Sissonville for what is also usually a struggle.
A visit to Poca on September 26 follows before the local squad visits Westside on October 3. Wayne, a constant Class AA championship contender, comes to town on October 10 and Griffith expects that to be “one of the best games in the state this season.”
It’s off to Tolsia the following week with Mingo Central visiting Boone County on October 24. The regular season ends with rival Logan coming to Scott on November 7.
All in all, Griffith will be disappointed if this year’s team does not have a winning year. After last season, he openly “toyed with” the idea of retiring. At the time, the coach said he was concerned that his rapport with young players had diminished. But the coach said this year’s turnout of potential players and encouragement from “players past and present” convinced him “I still have something to offer.”
Skyhawk fans hope that “something” includes a return to the Double A playoffs with a shot at heading to Wheeling Island for the state championship in December.