Devils gear up for football season

by Charlie Koenig - Posted on Aug 11, 2010 - 04:44 PM

With 70 players trying out for the school’s varsity and jayvee squads, and a veteran coaching staff in place, the outlook is promising for this year’s Mathews High School football program, according to head coach Paul White.

Practices began on Aug. 2, with the team putting on pads and going full contact on Saturday. The team gets a chance to see how they are going to stack up against the competition this Friday, when they host Bruton and Nandua in a scrimmage, starting at 6 o’clock.

Last year, the Blue Devils narrowly missed earning a playoff berth after losing the regular season finale, 41-40, in double overtime to the Middlesex Chargers. Mathews ended the 2009 season with a 4-6 record overall; 1-3 in the Tidewater District.

With an off-season conditioning program in place, and many Blue Devils participating in a University of Richmond camp late last month, White’s players should be in good shape for the coming season, although a few were seen suffering from the heat during Monday’s practice.

During an interview Tuesday, White said that he is looking solid as far as his offensive and defensive starters are concerned. Right now, he said, he is working on developing strong backup players who can step up when needed.

At quarterback, senior Michael Cunningham and Ryan Ewell, last year’s jayvee quarterback, are both working hard for the coveted slot, White said.

This year, a large number of first-time football players have showed up for practice, which pleases White. "I’m very happy about the turnout," he said, adding that now "we’re going to have to develop some of them" into key players.

Mathews begins the regular season on Aug. 27, when the Devils travel to Amelia to face the Barons. The following Friday, Mathews travels to Middlesex.