Brad Wilson wants to go fast.
The first-year Leesville Road football coach has installed an up-tempo offense to the program and the Pride accept.
Wilson wrapped up an 11-year career at Westminster (Md.) High School with a 71-48 overall record and a state championship appearance. Since his hiring in March, he’s learned he may have the personnel to run a speedy offense.
“We’ve got the kids to do it here,” Wilson said. “They’ve picked it up pretty well. (In practice), we’ll go back through and fine-tune things. They’re pretty smart.”
Wilson said he was pleased with the participation during summer workouts. About 75 to 80 players took part in the workouts four days a week.
Among those was rising senior quarterback Clay Vick, who said his team is mentally prepared to pick up the pace.
As a junior last season, he led the offense with 2,281 passing yards. He threw all but one of Leesville’s 20 touchdown passes.
Vick said though running was the Pride’s priority last season, they’re confident about the transition.
“I think our only thing is getting in shape to do the fast-paced offense,” he said. “I think we can handle it mentally.”
Vick’s targets this season will include Matt Hamilton and Jordan Moore. Last season, Moore was the only underclassmen to a catch a touchdown pass.
Moore, who primarily played safety last year, will move to the other side of the ball under Wilson. “I like offense better,” he said.
The rising seniors and juniors are expected to produce since the Pride (5-7, 3-4) lost several of their leaders to graduation, including receiver Elisiah Richardson, who racked up a team high 1,068 yards.
For back-to-back seasons in 2011 and 2012, Leesville finished undefeated in conference play and lost only one game both years.
Wilson said he has the tools to restore that bar.
“It’s really no secret. It all starts with great kids with positive attitudes, great work ethic … and a great staff,” Wilson said. “I could be the best coach in the world, but if you don’t have good people surrounding you and good kids, it doesn’t matter.
“This is a great place to be.”
In addition to introducing a faster offense, Wilson added his defense will be quick, too.
“It’s going to be up-tempo, non-stop,” cornerback K.J. Davis said. “I feel like we’re going to do pretty good this year.”
Leesville opens the season at Jordan on Aug. 21. The team won’t meet Wake Forest, the reigning Cap-8 champion that eliminated the Pride from the first round of the 4AA playoffs last year, until Oct. 23.
Just as his Westminster team did, Wilson expects to compete at the ultimate level with the Pride.
“If you’re a high school coach, your goal should be to play in the high school state championship,” he said. “You’re not going to coach for 10 or 11 games. I believe the first goal is you get better everyday, every practice. Then, you better every week. Then you get to the playoffs, hey, one game at a time.
“Those goals lead to that state championship.”
Contributors: RG Matt Cross, CB K.J. Davis, RB Sameer Duncan, WR Matt Hamilton, CB Dustin Leak, WR Jordan Moore, TE Patrick Rice, QB Clay Vick.
Expected team strength: There’s strength in numbers, as summer workouts averaged nearly 80 players a day
Question mark: Adjusting to up-tempo offense
Player they’ll miss: WR Elisiah Richardson. He led the team with 1,068 receiving yards and caught 11 touchdowns. Though Wilson has assembled a band of receivers to flow through his fast-paced offense, he joined the program a day late.
The number: 22.8 - How many points Leesville averaged last year at a slower pace, which is not a bad primer for this year’s plan.
The quote: TE Patrick Rice on Wilson “Honestly, he’s a great coach. He has a great philosophy about how to play football and how to be a family more than anything. It can’t be all about you; it has to be about the team.”
Game to watch: Aug. 28 vs Panther Creek. The Pride will be in front of their home crowd for the first time with their new offensive installation. Panther Creek gave up about two touchdowns a game last season and shut out Leesville, 27-0, last season, so this should be a good measuring stick.
Morgan 919-829-4538; @JessikaMorgan
Last five years
2014: 5-7 (3-4), 4AA first round
2013: 8-4 (5-2), 4AA first round
2012: 12-1 (7-0), 4AA third round
2011: 12-1 (7-0), 4AA third round
2010: 9-3 (5-1), 4AA first round