WARRENTON - It's too early to tell exactly what kind of football team the Warren County Screaming Devils might become in the fall. But one thing is for certain, they already are working towards achieving some big goals.
The biggest of those goals is to make it back into the state playoffs - something they accomplished last year - making it all the way to the third-round before being eliminated by Clinch County. That same team later was beaten by the Lincoln County Red Devils, who went on to win another Class A state championship under legendary coach Larry Campbell.
The Screaming Devils, who finished with an overall record of 8-5 last season under first year head Coach Lee Hutto, just completed a two-week spring practice session. It began April 31 and concluded on last Friday, May 11.
"I thought we had some pretty productive days at practice," said Coach Hutto, a former player and assistant coach at Thomson High School. "All we did, basically, was concentrate on basic fundamentals of the game. We did a lot of teaching, in other words."
The players who have participated in spring practice also have been learning about life lessons as well.
"We've been teaching more than just about the x and o's of the game," Coach Hutto said. "It's about teaching life skills, too."
Learning "well" the importance of all facets of the game is vital, Coach Hutto believes, if his Screaming Devils are to attempt a run at the playoffs again this year.
"I want our players to know and understand as much about this game as they possibly can," Coach Hutto said. "It's up to me and the rest of the coaching staff to see that that gets done."
By the time summer workouts begin on May 21, Coach Hutto hopes his team will be up to 40 or more players.
"We hope we can get a few more players to come out," added Coach Hutto. "I'd like to see us carry the momentum that we finished last season with into this one."
And why not?
The Screaming Devils have a number of returning players, including rising senior quarterback Tommy Seals.
"We've lost several players due to graduation, but we've got a number of players who are returning - several of them rising juniors and seniors," Coach Hutto said. "I think we'll be alright."
He believes this year's team will have to be faster and stronger than they were last season.
"We've been working on getting stronger in the weight room since the weekend after the game against Clinch County," Coach Hutto said. "And I think we'll improve on our team speed in time. We just have to keep plugging away."
Joey Moon, who is originally from Lincoln County and who served as an assistant coach at Georgia Military College for two years, is the newest member of the coaching staff at Warren County High School. Coach Hutto said Coach Moon will be teaching three classes of weight lifting at the school next fall.
"He's already been helping us out during spring practice," Coach Hutto said. "I couldn't do what I do without a good assistant coaching staff."
Coach Moon will be in charge of the defensive backs.
A pre-season scrimmage game is slated against Burke County High School's Bears on August 24 in Waynesboro.
"That game will be a good test for our program," added Coach Hutto.
The Screaming Devils open up their regular season against the Washington-Wilkes Tigers at home on Friday, August 31.
Coach Hutto said he has "high hopes" that the school's new football stadium will be completed in time for that first game against the Tigers.
"I can't tell you what it means to our football program and this community to be getting a new football stadium," Coach Hutto said. "It's great for the kids and great for the community."