There was already some uncertainty surrounding St. David’s School football with the Warriors’ 8-man team needing to replace seven starters from last year’s N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 2A state runner-up team.
But then came another wrinkle when Chris Sutton – tabbed to take over for last year’s head coach Daniel Evans in the spring – resigned just a few weeks before the start of practice to move to Myrtle Beach.
Scott Shaw, upper school principal at St. David’s and a junior varsity assistant last year, agreed to take over the head coaching reigns. He attended his first practice Monday, excited about the opportunity to lead the Warriors this fall.
“Excited is the right word. I’m excited about this program and the guys coming back,” Shaw said. “It’s a lot of fun, I have a lot of passion for this job, and I’m looking forward to getting to know this kids in a different way than just (through school).”
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How will St. David’s shake off the title-game loss?
St. David’s went 11-1 last season, averaging 57.5 points per game before its high-powered offense was stifled in a 28-14 loss in the 2A final to Kinston’s Arendell Parrott Academy, a team it had beaten, 50-28, earlier in the season.
Senior Garrett Lewis, who returns as the starting quarterback after a fine campaign a year ago when he tossed 30 touchdown passes to only one interception, believes he is ready to take on a larger role and is confident his team can again challenge for a state title.
“A lot of our leadership came from our seniors last year,” Lewis said. “This group of seniors is ready to take over that leadership role, me included as quarterback.
“It was heartbreaking last year, losing in the title game, but it’s a motivation for us now to be better this year. Even though we lost a lot of guys, we really want to get back there this year.”
Who are some players to watch this season?
In addition to Lewis, a pair of NCISAA 2A All-State performers return in seniors Chase Coker and Blake Sanders. Coker will man the center and nose guard positions, while Sanders will be one of the primary ball-catchers and will play defensive end.
Other notables are senior Trey Walker (running back/defensive back) and senior Baylor Wordsworth (tight end/wide receiver/defensive end).
Which players will be missed?
Among the seven starters that St. David’s graduated included a trio of All-State players, running back Melvin Briggs, linebacker David Pierce and cornerback Joel Al-Habash.
The personnel losses will challenge St. David’s depth, as the Warriors will suit up 18 players, down from last year’s 21.
“There will be some adjustments, but I see adverse situations as opportunities,” Shaw said. “This is a chance for guys who were second- and third-teamers to step up, and for our seniors to step up and be leaders. It’s all about the energy they bring to the field, and I recognize teams will be gunning for us, and we’ll do the best we can.”
More on the Warriors
Last year: 11-1, NCISAA 8-man 2A state runner-up.
Five-year average: 6-5
Coaches: Scott Shaw (head coach), Bill Yoest (assistant head coach), Steven Baker (assistant coach), Daniel Casey (assistant coach), Larron Yancey (assistant coach), Frank Pierce (assistant coach).
Contributors: Garrett Lewis (Sr., QB/DB), Chase Coker (Sr., C/NG), Blake Sanders (Sr., TE/WR/DE), Trey Walker (Sr., RB/DB), Baylor Wordsworth (Sr., TE/WR/DE).
The main number: 1 – The number of passes returning quarterback Garrett Lewis had intercepted all of last season
Aug. 19 at Halifax Academy
Aug. 26 at Northeast Academy
Sept. 2 at Bethel Christian
Sept. 9 vs. Wayne Christian
Sept. 16* at Grace Christian Raleigh
Sept. 23 BYE
Sept. 30* vs. Southampton Academy (Va.)
Oct. 7* vs. Rocky Mount Academy
Oct. 14* at Cary Christian
Oct. 21* vs. Arendell-Parrott Academy
Oct. 28* vs. Cary Christian
All games start at 7 p.m.; *-NCISAA 2A 8-man opponent