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Washington County Football 2011: Hancock coach predicts more wins than losses

August 27, 2011|By TIM KOELBLE | koelble@herald-mail.com
  • The 2011 Hancock football team.
By Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

HANCOCK — The Hancock football team hasn’t finished above .500 since winning nine games and reaching the playoffs in 2004.

Coach Dave Mahaffey thinks that will change this year.

“I’m making a bold statement that we are going to make a move to above .500 this season,” said Mahaffey, who enters his fourth season guiding the Panthers. “With the schedule we have we’ll be disappointed to finish in the won-loss range of the last two years.”

The Panthers had to scramble a bit to find an opponent for opening week. Their original season debut at Rappahannock County (Va.) was canceled when that school had only 11 players and terminated its program.

In the past few days, Saint James School shuffled its schedule to accommodate Hancock, and the Panthers will host the Saints on Friday night.

Along with the goal of being above .500 comes a new, multi-I set offense. Gone are the days of the old wing-T.

“We started putting in this offense in the sixth week last year but didn’t use it,” said Mahaffey. “This is an offense that we are adapting to the personnel we have. We knew that this type of offense would be the focus this year. It’s an offense that allows the kids to be successful. It’s the best offense for us to run the football.”

After 23 years of coaching the wing-T, it’s a huge change in philosophy for Mahaffey.

“I’m getting out of my comfort zone,” he said.

Leading the change on the field will be quarterback Garrett Wiles, who will be in his fourth varsity season.

The 5-foot-9, 160-pounder, who also plays defensive back, threw for 937 yards and eight scores last year.

“He’s gotten better every year and we expect big things from him,” Mahaffey said of Wiles.

He’ll share the load with Tanner Faith, a 5-7, 180-pound junior tailback who picked up 199 yards on the ground last year.

“Pound for pound he’s tough and strong with 6 percent body fat. We just need to keep him healthy,” said Mahaffey.

Throw sophomore fullback Harrison Layman (5-10, 200) and speedy wingback Jesse Wolford, a 5-9, 155-pound freshman into the mix and Mahaffey is ready to go.

“We’ve got speed and the quickest, most skilled group of players we’ve had,” said Mahaffey. “We have some depth and people that can play more than one position.”

The Panthers have nine players returning with experience in its 4-4 set.

Faith, an All-County second-teamer last year, will man one inside linebacker spot, while junior Tucker Price (5-11, 180) and senior Jamie Martin (5-10, 180) will share the other inside spot. Faith had 48 solo tackles, including 13 for losses, a year ago.

“That’s where we can control things inside, tackle to tackle,” said Mahaffey. “And we’ll be good defensively in the secondary.”

The Panthers will have Wiles and junior Hunter McKinley (5-10, 160) in the secondary.

“Last year, when we scored first we gained confidence, but when we didn’t it left our defense on the field too much,” said Mahaffey, noting the defense spent 54 percent of the time on the field last year.

“I think our defense is improved to the point where it will be visible,” he said. “The goal is to get the defense off the field.”

The Panthers also hope to utilize senior Tyler Cheng as an added weapon with his foot. Cheng had 17 PAT’s and one field goal last season and has increased his distance in practice.

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