Weddington High School was hit hard by graduation after a state championship season in 2016 but Warriors’ coach Tim Carson said the cupboard is not bare as the 2017 season opener looms on August 18.
Weddington rebounded from a 1-3 start a year ago and the Warriors won their final 12 games. Weddington capped the turnaround and won the Class 3AA State Championship when they defeated East Guilford 33-20 in the title game. Weddington advanced to the Class 3AA quarterfinals in 2015 where they lost to eventual state champion Crest 47-44.
Much of the offensive and defensive firepower from last season has graduated but it appears the Warriors may just be reloading.
“The outlook is positive,” Carson said. “We are coming off our state championship and we lost a lot of kids to graduation and some not coming back. But overall, the kids we have got here are working hard and are trying to do what the last few teams here did.”
Whitner Litton (6-foot, 170-pounds) was the backup quarterback last year and the junior completed 12 of 25 passes for 187 yards and four touchdowns. Sophomore Dusty Mercer (6-0, 170), who was the junior varsity quarterback last season, and junior Chazton Jordan (6-0, 164) are also in the mix under center.
Carson said the battle at quarterback is on going as the team heads to the start of August practices.
“We have three working at quarterback,” Carson said. “We have a good crew of kids working at quarterback. Hopefully, they can just keep improving.”
Weddington has used multiple running backs in the spread offense and that trend will continue this season. Junior Wayne Dixie (6-0, 185) played junior varsity last season before moving up to the varsity. Eamon Murphy (6-0, 190) and Will Shipley are also logging time in the backfield.
“We do running back by committee because that is something that we just do,” Carson said. “We have a lot of different running backs.”
Depth at receiver is a plus for Weddington as James Shipley (5-10, 160), Max Brimigion (6-0, 167) and Chase Turner (5-10, 165) all have varsity experience.. Shipley had 25 catches for 414 yards last season while Brimigion had 17 receptions for 290 yards. Turner had 10 catches for 281 yards as a freshman last season.
“Wide receiver, I think, is our strong point this year,” Carson said. “We have a lot of good kids.”
Nick Bernhard (6-3, 270) is the lone returning starter on the offensive line. Chris Sorensen (6-0, 195) logged extensive time on the offensive line last season and is expected to start.
“We are just trying to make a good unit,” Carson said.
Weddington returns just three starters on defense in Shipley, Brimigion and Murphy. Murphy had 88 tackles from his outside linebacker spot last season while Shipley had 36 stops at safety.
“We lost six of our seven up front, but right now we have some young kids working hard,” Carson said. “Defensive line will be by committee right now. It will be whoever is playing the best.”
Sophomore Ian Williams (6-2, 170) is expected to handle the kicking duties.
“We have had some good kickers in the past and we have another good one coming through,” Carson said. “Ian kicked for us on jayvee last year and he has a strong leg. He is going to be pretty good.”