SVHS opens practice for 2018 season
HUNTINGTON — As the summer begins to wind down, it signals the start of many fall sports around the region and after a trip to the Class AAA Football State Championship game last season, the Spring Valley Timberwolves are eager to hit the gridiron hunting for yet another trip to Wheeling at seasons end.
Spring Valley Head Coach Brad Dingess said that injuries hurt the team’s chances in the title game against Martinsburg a year ago, falling 44-16 after being held scoreless in the second half, but if healthy in the upcoming season, his team could once again be a contender in Class AAA.
“It was disappointing; we just couldn’t stay healthy there at the end,” Dingess said. “When you battle injury after injury that’s a big thing. We’ve got an opportunity to have a pretty decent football team if we can stay healthy.”
The Timberwolves return quite a bit of talent heading into the 2018 season, which Dingess said has helped the student-athletes jump right in where they left off when the season ended last December.
“At every spot we have guys that have played varsity time or started in meaningful minutes so I feel good about what we have coming back,” Dingess said. “We’re a lot farther along on Day 1 than we even were last year, which was kind of a rebuilding year for us.”
Getting in shape after summer break is at the forefront of the SVHS coaching staffs’ plan for the next few weeks of practice. Though the members of the team met sparingly over the summer, Dingess said it’s important to make every practice matter leading up to the start of the season.
“We’ve got to get in game shape. Also we have a lot of kids coming back so we have to find our niche, it took us a while last year,” Dingess said of identifying the teams identity early on. “Because, we didn’t really find out what kind of team we were until about week 4, so we have to start better at the beginning of the year to find that out.”
“We lost some really good football players, but the kids behind them are good, and if we can stay healthy we can give some people fits.”
The Quarterback competition could be especially intriguing for the Dingess’ coaching staff in the coming weeks, Junior Nathan Ellis and Senior Will Adkins both have the potential to be Spring Valley’s next signal caller and the competition is wide open.
“Both of them are good, and then you throw (Graeson) Malashevich in there and we could run some option stuff, too. Will has a big arm and he’s a big kid, can rumble in there and get us some good yards and Nathan (Ellis) is an athlete that can make stuff happen with his feet when he gets outside the pocket,” Dingess said after Day 1 of practice. “It’s not necessarily who the best guy is but who goes best with what kind of team we are. Whoever gives us the best fit is who we’ll go with.”
With a loaded roster, Spring Valley features a pair of seniors, lineman Zach Williamson and Doug Nestor, who have already committed to playing football at the Division I level next season with Louisville and Ohio State respectively.
Williamson, who will play offensive tackle at Louisville, said he will be ready to go when the Timberwolves open the season Aug. 24 at home vs. Wayne after breaking his fibula and tibia in a regular season game against Cabell Midland last season. He will team with Ohio State commitment Doug Nester on an offensive line that hopes to lead Spring Valley to its third consecutive Class AAA state championship game.
Williamson and Nestor each had several offers on the table many from Power 5 schools but both committed in the offseason entering their senior season. It’s a move that Dingess feels will help both athletes keep their nose to the grindstone this fall.
“They’re pretty humble kids and I feel really good about them staying focused,” Dingess said. “They’re happy and that was one of the reasons they went ahead and got that commitment and all that kind of stuff over with so they could focus on this team.”
See page 2A for Spring Valley’s 2018 schedule and check out next’s edition for what to expect from the Wayne High School Pioneers.