Football team ramps up for season

The Flying Flucos football team was already in serious practice mode in late July preparing for the 2017 season. Head Coach Steve Szarmach had his 38 varsity players working out in the morning on July 27-28. Luckily, although it was muggy, the temperature was tolerable. Brutally high temperatures are a real risk when the football season opens in the summer, as is the case here in Central Virginia.

The Flucos were preparing for their first scrimmage, scheduled for Aug. 11 at Waynesboro High. The Flucos also have a scrimmage scheduled against Fork Union Military Academy (FUMA) on Aug. 18 at home. They open their regular season on Aug. 25, when they will host Bluestone High, a new opponent. The Bluestone Barons will be coming in from Mecklenburg County down on the Virginia and North Carolina border. After that, the Flucos travel on Sept. 1 to Spotsylvania High, a regular football opponent. After a week off, they return home on Sept. 15 for a battle against Madison County High, another new opponent. From that point on, the Flucos run through the usual list of Jefferson District opponents.

Szarmach noted that he has some talented players returning and some promising juniors who have moved up from last year’s junior varsity squad. In terms of players to watch, he first mentioned junior quarterback and safety Colby Martin. Another quarterback prospect he mentioned was senior Jacob Taylor. Last year, Szarmach had to deal with some injuries at this key position and ended up with Jordan Melton, originally a running back, at the position. Melton did a very credible job.

One of the team’s top offensive threats last season was tight end Joey Van Dyke, who was a standout as a sophomore. He returns to the same position and will also be a defensive end. Two strong tacklers from last season who are back are seniors Trevor O’Dell and Drew Hamshar. O’Dell will play at running back and linebacker, while Hamshar is penciled in at strong safety and at running back. Each of these two made some key stops for the Flucos last year. Szarmach also expects to receive strong contributions from seniors Ryan Tyree, Kyron Washington-Fuller and James Easter. Tyree is a wide receiver and cornerback. Washington-Fuller and Easter will man the trenches, Washington-Fuller as nose tackle and center and Easter at offensive tackle.

In the kicking game, Szarmach has lost punter Alan Torres, his only first team All-District selection from last year. He noted that, at the present time, it looks like the kicking game will be in the hands of senior Ethan Graves. Graves was one of the team’s place kickers last season.  When asked about the return game, Szarmach did not name anyone specifically, but noted that a number of his players ran track in the spring and that, as a result, he expects to have more team speed this year than in the past.

Szarmach noted that while he expects to utilize both the run and the pass this year, he suggested that there may be an emphasis on the running game. This is not surprising, as many high school teams emphasize pounding it out and only passing on occasion.

Szarmach’s primary assistants on the sideline this season are all holdovers. He has Mitchell Pace as his offensive coordinator, and Devon Watkins as defensive coordinator. Special teams will be handled by Marcus Carter.