A new era of Husky football will begin this Friday on the gridiron as head coach Brian Hampton has had his Ashe County team hard at work.
The Huskies will have to replace several key players off of last year’s team, including Mountain Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year Josh Wineberg, quarterback Sam Gammons, wide receiver Matthew Sexton and starting tailback Kole Goss.
Ashe will be running the spread offense this season, with senior Eli Gambill at the quarterback position. Gambill was the backup QB last year and saw some limited action there, but was mainly used as the second wide receiver opposite of Sexton. Gambill’s transition to the quarterback spot will be one of the biggest keys to success for the 2012 Huskies.
At the runningback spot, a trio of athletes looks to be in the running for a bulk of the carries.
“Johnathan Cox, Kolten Pilar, and Dustin Guy are looking good at runningback,” said Coach Hampton.
Replacing both of last year’s leading pass catchers won’t be easy, but Hampton feels that Matthew Hamilton, Michael Elliott and Jacob Blevins will be the top targets for Gambill to throw to on the outside.
On the offensive line, Jake Woods, Avery Blevins and Cameron Guyton should be the leaders, but Coach Hampton expects to get contributions from a lot of players on the line.
Defensively, the Huskies will be lining up in a 3-4 with Dominic Maxwell and Carson Knight doing most of the work in the trenches.
In the linebacker group, Justin Scarborough and Cullen Ashley have been solid throughout practice. Ashley will also line up on the offensive side of the ball playing tight end.
“He (Ashley) is going to be a real significant part to our team,” added Hampton.
Overall, the year will be a growing process for the Huskies, replacing several important players from last year and bringing up some young talent from last year’s junior varsity team.
“We’re a young team, we only have 12 seniors this year so we are going to depend on a lot of younger guys and it depends on how fast those guys grow up and how fast we come together,” said Coach Hampton.
Turnout this year has been good for the new coaching staff with roughly 85 players, and more on the JV team than on varsity, so the foundation is there for upcoming seasons as well.
With the final week of practice here before the season opener, Coach Hampton has liked the hard work, but also wants his team to improve on a few things.
“So far, the big thing is the effort has been there,” said Hampton. “The one thing that these guys need to do just a little bit better is that there needs to be a sense of urgency. These seniors need to realize this is their last go-around, and they need to make it special.”
The Huskies play its first two games on the road, this week at West Caldwell, then the big rivalry matchup with Watauga on Aug. 24. Ashe will host North Surry on the final Friday of the month to open the home slate of games.
September starts with the first conference game of the year, at home versus Elkin. The Huskies travel to Starmount on Sept. 14, followed by Homecoming week against West Wilkes. Ashe wraps up September with a road contest at North Wilkes on Sept. 28.
Ashe completes the regular season with a home game against Alleghany (Oct. 5), road game at Wilkes Central (Oct. 12), Senior Night at home against Forbush (Oct. 19) and the season finale` at East Wilkes on Oct. 26.