With the start of the 2006 football season only a few hours away, members of the Warren County Screaming Devils squad are putting the finishing touches on several major changes in their football program.
The coaching staff and new play formations and schemes highlight just a few of the changes that Warren County players are getting accustomed to as the clock ticks down on the '06 opening kickoff.
The Screaming Devils will open their new football season on Friday night, Sept. 1, on the road against the Washington-Wilkes Tigers. The Tigers have moved up to Class AA after finishing as the Class A State runners-up last season to Larry Campbell's Lincoln County Red Devils.
The coaching staff at WCHS has two new faces on board that are no strangers to high school football in this area. Head Coach Lee Hutto and Offensive Coordinator Alvin Wright were members of the Thomson High Bulldog coaching staff for several years under the leadership of Head Coach Luther Welsh.
Both of these coaches were on staff at THS when the Bulldogs captured the 2002 Class AAAA State Championship. After the 2003-2004 school year, Coach Hutto and Coach Wright left THS for assistant coaching positions at Glynn Academy in Brunswick. They stayed there two years before coming back to the CSRA.
"It feels really good to be back at home in this area," Coach Hutto said. "Everyone has given us a warm and special welcome and has given us their entire support as we begin our journey at WCHS."
Coach Hutto's wife is the former Hollie Johnson of Warrenton.
He is a 1992 graduate of Thomson High. While there, he played defensive end for Coach Welsh. Coach Hutto received his bachelor's degree in education from West Georgia College in 1997 and his master's degree from Troy University in 2003.
Coach Hutto's first coaching job was at Washington-Wilkes High School, where he served as assistant coach of the defensive line from 1997-99. He was on the coaching staff of two renowned generals of the gridiron in Butch Brooks and Frank Voheen during their tenure at W-W.
From 1999-2003, Coach Hutto was defensive line coach for the Thomson Bulldogs. In the summer of 2004, Coach Hutto became the defensive coordinator and assistant head coach at Class AAAAA Glynn Academy under the leadership of Rob Ridings.
Coach Wright is also a graduate of Thomson High, where he played halfback under the guidance of Head Coach Bill Reese. He then attended Georgia Southern and played halfback for legendary coach Erk Russell. Coach Wright later became an assistant coach for Thomson and then the offensive coordinator for Glynn Academy.
With both Coach Hutto and Coach Wright on the staff at Glynn Academy, the Brunswick team went 6-4 in 2004 and 7-4 in 2005. Before the '04 season, Glynn Academy had only won six games over a three-year period.
In 2005 with its 7-4 mark, Glynn Academy reached the state playoffs for the first time in many, many years. The team was eliminated in the first round of the Class AAAAA State Playoffs.
The other members of the Screaming Devil coaching staff are Marbeau Blount and Cemonis Beall. Coach Blount will direct the running backs and defensive backs, while Coach Beall will guide the offensive and defensive lines.
"Everyone has been very supportive from the community in our program," Coach Hutto said. "We have a great principal here at WCHS and a great superintendent for the school system, and they have given us their 100 percent support and guidance. ... Community support is very, very important for our athletic team. The Warrenton and Warren County community has already been a direct, positive influence on our players."
The roster of the 2006 WCHS Screaming Devils includes 36 players with a senior class of 10. The squad also features 15 juniors, four sophomores and seven freshmen.
"We have a really good group of seniors this year, and each one has worked really hard getting prepared for the upcoming season," Coach Hutto said. "We have a lot of skilled players in this group also."
Seniors for the Screaming Devils include Karvarcea Ivey, Foster Moss, Gary Walker, Maquell Williams, Quadrez Reese, Ivory Story, Quamaine Walker, Curtis Watley, Demetris Harris and Jacobriar Blount.
"Quamaine Walker, Jacorian Blount, Quadrez Reese and Ivory Story have done an exceptional job for us on both sides of the ball," Coach Hutto said. "The entire senior class has worked extremely hard in their respective positions on each side of the line of scrimmage."
These four seniors have many duties on the WCHS football team. Walker will hold down the positions of wide receiver and linebacker, Blount at defensive end and tight end, Reese at fullback and outside linebacker (Pony), and Story at offensive guard and nose guard. He will also handle the kick off duties and extra points for the Devils.
"I am very proud of Jacobian Blount for his work in the classroom," Coach Hutto said. "He has been named to the Academic All-State Team for this year."
The biggest class of players for the Devils is the junior class. These players are headlined by Quarterback Tommy Seals. He started at the QB position as a freshman two years ago and has been selected as a Pre-Season First Team All-State Punter.
"Tommy has good instincts at the quarterback spot," Coach Hutto said. "He can both run and throw exceptionally well."
Coach Hutto also commended Junior Devon Wall.
"At offensive tackle and linebacker, Devon is probably the hardest working player on our team," he said. "He looks like a senior in the way he practices and plays football."
Perhaps the most significant change that the Screaming Devil football team is experiencing is transforming to the Wing-T offense and the 3-5-3 Defense.
"The Wing-T offense fits our kids ability and play," Coach Hutto said. "We have good speed, quickness and skill players. It takes this trio of components to effectively run the Wing-T."
He said the team has adapted well so far.
"It is a difficult offense to run, because there is so much misdirection," Coach Hutto said. "Everybody has to be on the same page. Even though we've had to go slow at it, our players have picked up well."
The Warren County backfield that will run this explosive, new offense are Seals at quarterback, Reese at fullback, Kentrell Latimore and Devarrus Reynolds at halfback.
"Defensively, all our players have enjoyed the very aggressive 3-5-3 look," Coach Hutto said. "This defense is based on speed. We will blitz our linebackers a lot, and this formation fits the type of players we have at WCHS."
Among the leaders on this defense are Walls and Van Williams at linebacker and Karvarcea Ivey at free safety.
"Another area that we have put a major emphasis on is our special team play," Coach Hutto said. "We work on kicking and punting every day. If we block a punt, that will put the ball in position for us to score. It is more likely for a team to block a kick than to run one back for a touchdown. We have the personnel available that can make things happen on special teams."
Region 7-A is probably one of the toughest regions in Class A. With Warren County, the other teams that comprise this region are defending state champs Lincoln County, plus Twiggs County, Monticello, Hancock Central, GMC, Aquinas and Wilkinson County.
Outside the region, Warren County will play Washington-Wilkes, Swainsboro and Jefferson, which is pre-season ranked No. 6 in Class A.
"We have an extremely tough schedule," Coach Hutto said. "Even though our schedule is not easy, that will make us a better team and improve our program."
This year's WCHS Screaming Devils are hoping that the new offense and defense will lead them to a better season than last year. In 2005 under the direction of Coach Charles Rutland, the Devils recorded an 8-4 record and got beat in the second round of the state playoffs by Bowden High School.