POCA, W.Va. — Teddy Stewart emerged over the past week to become Poca’s new head football coach. The Hurricane assistant was officially approved on Monday to take over for longtime head coach Bob Lemley who retired this past offseason.
“It’s been a whirlwind for me,” Stewart said. “When Coach Lemley retired, some people had asked if I would be interested – and it did strike my interest, being so close (to Hurricane) here in Putnam County. I thought this may be my time. I love the game of football and (this) has been a goal of mine – the opportunity was there and I took it.”
Stewart, a Clay-Battelle graduate, has spent the past couple of seasons under Jeremy Taylor at Hurricane. He was also previously a head coach at South Middle School in Morgantown, before joining John Kelley’s staff for three seasons at University High.
“I’ve been very lucky to have worked with some head coaches who have been head coaches for a long time,” Stewart said. “We’re here to work and have a great work ethic – I hope folks expect that from me and the kids. We’re here to win and that’s what football is all about, trying to build a program. We want to get community support and involvement – make Poca proud when their football team gets on the field on Friday nights.”
It’s a football program overall that certainly was used to success during the peak of Lemley’s 24-year tenure, as the Dots won state championships in 1994, 2001, 2002 and 2003, along with a state runner-up finish in 1996.
“They are definitely big shoes to fill,” Stewart said. “It’ll be a challenge, but I think that I’m ready for it. Once I get my staff together and the kids get to know us, I think we’ll have a chance. Coach Lemley had some good teams – so hopefully we feed off of that, get the community involved and the kids up about it and get the program back to where it once was.”
Stewart met with his team for the first time back on Tuesday, but will take a few weeks to put together his staff and evaluate the best offensive and defensive schemes to fit his personnel.
“I’ve seen some film from last season and there are some good things there,” he said. “We have to work with what we have. Being in high school, we don’t get to pick the players that we need – but we are cognizant of that and optimistic. We have a good group of seniors coming back and we can work from there.”
Stewart will be looking to turn around a program that went 1-9 in 2013 and has made the postseason just twice in the past 10 years.
“I got to meet with the boys (this week) and we had about 40 kids show up from ninth through the 11th grade who would be interested to play next year,” he said. “They all seemed interested and ready to go, one boy was ready to get on the field right now. It was positive and we can build off of that, get them in the weight room and get ready for the three week practice session in June.”