Less than a month into the job, new Daleville head coach Trey Woolf is in evaluation mode with his new team.
“Just a lot of patience and a lot of evaluation seeing where they are,” said Woolf, a longtime Early County (Ga.) head coach who was hired on July 18. “I have to maximize our time as much as possible and not waste any time, doing things we might not be capable of doing. I am trying to keep things in line with what they know and build on what they know.”
The evaluation period will likely continue throughout much of the season for Woolf and the Warhawks, who open on Aug. 31 at Wicksburg. Daleville has a preseason jamboree the week before against Kinston on Aug. 24.
“There is a lot more evaluating going on at this time of year than you normal ly would have,” Woolf said, noting that spring practice usually helps in that regard.
With his late hire, Woolf didn’t have that opportunity in the spring and with one week of mandated no practices by the AHSAA and another strongly discouraged in July, he hasn’t seen much in the little time since his hire.
He has seen the players move around, condition, lift weights and work on some fundamentals.
What he has seen so far, he has liked.
“I have been pleased with their work ethic and the coaches have been great, so everything is going real good right now,” said Woolf, who amassed 109 wins in 16 seasons at Early County from 2001-2016.
“In the seven or eight times I have seen them on the field (in non-contact practices), there are 12-13 decent football players, just seeing them move around.”
He will get a clearer picture later this week when teams are allowed to don full pads for practice per AHSAA rules.
“We haven’t put on pads yet,” Woolf said. “That is still an unknown – who likes to hit and who doesn’t like to hit.”
He will also have a better understanding once the lights go on in late August for the preseason jamboree and the first game.
“Until I see them under fire, I just don’t know,” Woolf said. “It all changes once somebody hits you in the mouth.”
Woolf inherited a Warhawk team that finished 6-5 last year under former coach Rob Armstrong. They reached the first round of the Class 3A playoffs.
Like Woolf, a new set of region foes will also be unfamiliar for the Warhawks, who dropped down to Class 2A this season. It is the lowest Daleville has been since 1977. They had been in 3A the last 10 years after a long fixture in 4A when DHS won the state title in 1992 and finished runner-up in 1993.
Only one team on the schedule is the same from last year -- Cottonwood, which Daleville defeated in a non-region last year, 48-42. The Bears are now one of the new 2A, Region 2 foes for the Warhawks, who also face Abbeville, Ariton, Barbour County, Geneva County, G.W. Long and Houston County in region play.
In addition to the late start, Woolf and the Daleville coaching staff have to deal with low numbers. Woolf reported 28-30 kids are out, including a couple of linemen who joined the team after summer vacation. As a result, most players will have to play both ways and staying away from injuries will be vital.
“We have to create as much depth as we can with this few of players,” Woolf said. “You have to multi-train a bunch of them at different positions.”
Six starters return on defense, including linemen Austin Beal, Jordan Britt and Gabe Gordon, all seniors. Gage Head, a senior, and Sincere McKenzie, a sophomore, return as starting linebackers and Jaylon White, a junior, returns at safety.
All of the same players are returning starters on offense except McKenzie. Beal, Britt and Gordon return on the line, Head at tight end and White at running back.
A year ago, White led the Warhawk offense, rushing for 1,206 years with 16 touchdowns, averaging 109.7 yards per game.
“Just from a position standpoint, it looks like the skill positions overall will be pretty good,” Woolf said. “It appears we may have more depth (at the skill positions) than the linemen. There are three or four experienced linemen, but after that there is not a lot of depth. Of course, with 28-30 players there won’t be a lot of depth.”
Daleville has to work in a new starting quarterback following the graduation of Chance Head. Peanut Bloodsaw, a sophomore, and Torry Hobdy, a senior, are working at the position with Bloodsaw holding the early edge, said Woolf.
“Peanut will probably play there, but we have to work other kids there just like we do at every other position,” Woolf said.
“He (Bloodsaw) is raw, a young kid. It will be a work in progress with him, but he is a good athlete and he is listening and letting us coach him.”
Other key players Daleville expects to count on include offensive/defensive lineman Gabe Elrod (senior), Brian Serrano (senior) and Casey Moore (junior) along with tight end/linebacker Dylan Beal (senior), running back/linebacker Tarren High (senior) and wide receiver/defensive back Nafabion Hudson (senior).
With so little time to work with before the season begins, Woolf said he is taking a simple approach to things in preseason practice, allowing players to perfect a few things and not overwhelm them.
“My hope and plan is to do the best I can to keep things simple and keep them doing what they have been doing as much as possible,” Woolf said. “We are using the same terminology. The defensive coordinator stayed and he is running the same thing as last year. I am trying to keep them as comfortable as possible, hopefully meaning they will play better.
“Just being patient and working on a lot of little things for them to improve on.”
WARHAWKS AT A GLANCE
>> Head coach: Trey Woolf (1st year at Daleville; 17th year as a head coach, 105-75-3)
>> 2017 record: 6-5 overall, 5-2 Class 3A, Region 2, first round of Class 3A state playoffs
>> 2017 results: Carroll (L, 0-39); Wicksburg # (L, 14-49); at Houston Academy # (W, 28-8); Slocomb # (W, 20-14); Elba (L, 28-34); at Providence Christian # (L, 20-28); Geneva # (W, 40-27); at Straughn # (W, 12-7); at Opp # (W, 30-25); Cottonwood (W, 48-42). STATE PLAYOFFS; Oakman (L, 12-31)
>> Points scored/per game: 252/22.9
>> Points allowed/per game: 304/27.6
>> Returning offensive starters (5): OL Austin Beal (Sr.); OL Jordan Britt (Sr.); OL Gabe Gordon (Sr.); TE Gage Head (Sr.); RB Jaylon White (Jr.)
>> Returning defensive starters (6): DL Austin Beal (Sr.); DL Jordan Britt (Sr.); DL Gabe Gordon (Sr.); LB Gage Head (Sr.); LB Sincere McKenzie (So.); S Jaylon White (Jr.)
Aug. 31 at Wicksburg
Sept. 7 Houston County #
Sept. 14 at G.W. Long #
Sept. 21 Ariton #
Sept. 28 Straughn
Oct. 5 at Cottonwood #
Oct. 12 Abbeville #
Oct. 19 at Geneva County #
Oct. 26 Barbour County
Nov. 2 Off
# Denotes region contest