Kendrick Weaver spent part of his offseason showing up at Erwin High at 5:30 in the morning, throwing footballs in the gym, building off a strong finish to his junior season and readying for his final year of high-school football.
After transferring in from Owen and beginning last season in a battle for the starting quarterback job, Weaver’s move into the starting lineup and the turnaround to the Warriors’ season was not coincidental.
First-year coach Rodney Pruett saw his team evolve from an 0-4 start to six straight wins in the Western Mountain Athletic Conference, and he credits Weaver for a major role in that reversal of fortunes.
“Kendrick stepped in and showed great leadership in addition to his on-field skills,” said Pruett.
“He earned his team’s respect and now he commands respect, and that has made us better.”
“I transferred in late and didn’t get to work much with my new team, but I worked with my coaches and went over the playbook, and I’ve worked with my receivers all through the offseason,” said Weaver.
“Now I just want to expand my IQ and understand the defenses we face.”
Weaver threw for 1,603 yards and 17 touchdowns last season with just two interceptions and is among 14 starters back for a run at the Western Mountain Athletic Conference title.
“I like where this group is,” said Pruett, who was an assistant under Mike Sexton as part of a program that has enjoyed 10 straight winning seasons.
“We are a veteran team and have guys who are used to the system.”
Pruett said that kind of experience helps create much more efficient practices.
“There’s less teaching and more work on execution. We have a good work ethic and some dynamic playmakers, and that can be a winning combination. We call it sharpening the blade.”
The dynamic playmakers on offense, working behind a line that returns four starters, includes receiver Simeon Thompson (45 catches for 812 yards, 10 TDs).
“We want to get Simeon in space because he can present challenges and is a matchup problem,” said Pruett.
Pruett also expects a breakout year from tailback Don Mosley.
On defense, Jackson Gouge is a three-year starter on the line who will play both ways.
At linebacker, Jimmy Dean is a blue-collar player and will team with Emory Pennell to lead a strong group.
In the secondary, cornerback Monty Williams is a shutdown cover player.
All that could add up to the Warriors’ first league title since 2012 and just their second since 2000.
“Reynolds gets all the respect in the world as the program that’s on top right now, but we feel like we have a chance,” Pruett. “It’s going to be a battle to win the conference this year. “
“I think teams get psyched out against Reynolds and they don’t think they can win, but we’re not going to do that,” said Weaver.
“We’re going to play our game and that should be good enough.”
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