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Eagles' first-year coach finds cupboard is bare

September 05, 2008|By Tim Koelble

HEDGESVILLE, W.Va. - Paul Plott has been a head football coach at four high schools and most recently an assistant coach at Martinsburg for two years.

When Hedgesville hired him in February, Plott brought along with him 30 years of coaching experience.

This might be the year in his career that he has to reach back and pull out all the tricks of the trade.

"My biggest surprise was the number of seniors (six) with any kind of experience, and they really did not play that much last year," said Plott. "And we've only got eight juniors."

Even after a second scrimmage, last Friday against Frankfort, Plott and his staff had yet to come to grips with the decision-making process of who will start and where the pieces will fall together.

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One of the potential leaders of the team likely won't be in uniform the first two games - the season opener Friday at home against Washington, and then against Berkeley Springs.

Multi-sport senior Jordan Reed (5-foot-9, 150 pounds), who can play at tailback, receiver and defensive back, is out with turf toe for possibly two weeks.

"(Jordan) works hard and could be a leader for us, but we won't have him right away," said Plott.

Plott was also counting on senior Scott Keifer, but the 5-10, 185-pound tight end and linebacker recently had a knee scope and is out indefinitely.

"Those are two seniors right there that would help us with some experience," said Plott.

Matt Laing, a 6-1, 190-pound senior, is the likely candidate to start under center. Along with center Kyle Bellamy (5-9, 200), they are the two returning starters on offense.

Only two other players were named by Plott to play on the line, and they'll go both ways - senior Andrew Synder (6-4, 260) and senior Maurice Adams (5-9, 275), two of six Eagles on the roster who give the team some beef at more than 225 pounds.

"We're starting out like a junior varsity team playing a varsity schedule," said Plott. "We've got to push them hard and hope they won't make too many mistakes. The biggest challenge is blending them together."

Many of the positions are likely to be filled by two-way players, meaning conditioning is going to be important.

"I think they've gotten a lot of work and are in good shape," said Plott.

On top of inexperience, the Eagles have been in the process of learning a new system.

Offensively, Plott is strategizing a multiple set plan, while he'll go with a 3-4 defensive set.

"We're working at it," he said. "It's not a complex offense right now for high school. And defensively, we'll try to swarm the ball and be aggressive and we'll show different fronts."

The odds are stacked against the Eagles producing their first winning season since 1997, when they went 10-3 and reached the state semifinals. Hedgesville's best seasons of late are a pair of 5-5 campaigns in 2000 and 2001.

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