BECKLEY, W.Va. — The last two seasons, Woodrow Wilson has squeaked into the Class AAA playoffs as the 16th and 15th seeds, respectively. That meant both years the Flying Eagles had to make the long journey to the eastern panhandle to face Martinsburg.
This season coach John Lilly wants to see his team better position itself heading into the postseason.
“We’re going to have to get some home playoff dates and get ourselves in a little better situation, so we don’t have to travel five hours to play an opening round playoff game,” Lilly said.
This year’s team returns several playmakers but has to overcome the graduation of all-state defensive back and quarterback Andrew Johnson.
“When you have a young man that has 4,000 yards of offense and he walks out the door, you don’t necessarily replace him,” Lilly said.
The Flying Eagles will lean on Brent Osborne to replace Johnson. He spent last year starting on the defensive side of the ball at linebacker. Along with Osborne, Donte Nabors and Chase Hancock headline a small senior class of just seven players.
“Both are very explosive players,” Lilly said. “They are phenomenal kids and great athletes. We will have to rely on them until some other kids grow up.”
While Woodrow Wilson will lack the experience of Johnson at quarterback, the Flying Eagles are hoping to have depth in terms of numbers.
“It’s an extremely difficult week in and week out grind in the MSAC,” he said. “We don’t want to put ourselves in a situation where we are going into a game short-handed. We have to get our younger kids ready to play on Friday night instead of Monday night.”
And as for getting back into the playoffs in 2013?
“We have to maintain a mental focus in each game,” Lilly said. “Last year, we beat a very good Hurricane team, then we turnaround and don’t play well against Spring Valley the next week. We need focus on everybody’s part. That’s something we need to correct and continue to get better at.”
Regardless, the ultimate goal for the Flying Eagles is like the rest of the Class AAA field – get to Wheeling Island in December.
“Here at Woodrow Wilson we want to find some way to get there,” Lilly said. “You have to get to the playoffs before you can dance. The biggest thing for us like any team in the MSAC is you’re just going to have to figure out how to get through the injuries because each week you are playing a powerhouse.”
2013 Football Schedule
|1|| Aug. 30 7:30 p.m.
|2|| Sept. 6 7:30 p.m.
|3|| Sept.13 7:30 p.m.
|4|| Sept. 27 7:30 p.m.
|5|| Oct. 4 7:30 p.m.
||at CABELL MIDLAND||-|
|6|| Oct. 11 7:30 p.m.
|7|| Oct. 18 7:30 p.m.
|8|| Oct. 25 7:30 p.m.
|9||Nov. 1 7:30 p.m.
||at OAK HILL||-|
|10||Nov. 8 7:30 p.m.||HEDGESVILLE||-|
— Wes McKinney