WESTON, W.Va – After a two-year streak of playoff appearances was snapped in 2020, a 2-8 finish in 2021 left the Lewis County Minutemen short of the postseason for the second year in a row.
A large contingent of sophomore and junior contributors are now juniors and seniors and the focus for fall camp so far in Weston has centered on preperation and attention to detail.
With another year under their belts, head coach Dustin Cogar believes that the “on the job training” they received last year will pay off once they take the field this season.
“Definitely I think we should be a little bit better knowledge-wise being that we had so many players back from last season because we we’re still exceptionally young so the biggest thing right now is to take it one day at a time and get them some confidence,” he said.
Zach Woody was one of those guys who stepped up last year and he says that the first steps toward an improved finish this season didn’t get taken overnight.
“Honestly, I think our biggest strength is we’ve been in the weight room all summer. We started back in the winter, right as soon as we got out of the season last year and we’ve been going non-stop,” he said.
Nearly as important to the on-field development of a young group like this one is getting them ready to be able to make the right decisions when they take their first live snaps in a few weeks.
For Cogar, that means taking things a little bit slower during the first few weeks of practice with hopes that it will help the key ideas seep through.’
“The biggest thing is taking everything one day at a time,” he said, “We’re still very young so getting them the reps that they need and still getting them to understand where they’re supposed to be and to play as a team is what we’re focused on right now.”
Focus on the finer aspects of the game one of the big steps that needs to be taken to get Lewis County back to the point it reached a few years ago and the more experienced members of this team are making sure they are paid attention to early.
“We’re just focused on getting everything right, our technique and all of our plays,” offensive lineman Tom Derico said, “We go over them multiple times in just making sure that we have everything right so that way there’s no question when it comes gametime.”
The hope now is that the result of that improved approach to the details of the game will pay dividends in close games after a few second half leads got away from the Minutemen last year with the difference between winning and losing being a razor thin margin at times.
“I think honestly what we need to improve on is just finishing games,” Woody said, “Last year, we had a hard time finishing games. We were up in some games and just couldn’t finish them.”
As far as the product once toe meets leather in a few weeks? Cogar sees the most experience on his team at the skill positions but has expectations for a developing offensive line that could be the key to helping the Minutemen find their way back into the postseason.
“Strength’s going to be our skill positions,” he said, “We have a lot of those returning from last year that got a lot of playing time. We’re anxious to see how our line shapes up as we get on through the season.”
Lewis County opens the season on the road on August 26, taking on defending Class AA champions Fairmont Senior.