Wando’s Noonan expects improvement from 2014 Warriors
By David Shelton
Mt. Pleasant – After winning 10 games in 2012, the Wando High football team took a step backwards last season, finishing with a 4-8 record.
Wando head coach Jimmy Noonan enters his sixth season at the region 7-AAAA school with higher expectations from his 2014 squad. Though there are plenty of holes to fill defensively this fall, with only three returning starters, the coach feels the athleticism and talent is there to be improved.
However, Noonan realizes that in class AAAA, nothing comes easy. While he feels good about the potential on this year’s team, the coach is taking a wait-and-see approach.
“Well, you never really know,” said Noonan. “In AAAA football, you have to be at your best every week. We have to keep the accelerator on the floor because AAAA football is unforgiving. You can’t have a bad game. We’re going to keep the pressure on our guys. We have the potential to be a pretty competitive football team”
Wando opens the 2014 season at home on August 29th against White Knoll of region 5-AAAA. White Knoll opened its season in week zero with a loss to Fort Mill.
“We’re playing White Knoll in the opener and we have not fared very well against teams from the Midlands and upstate in the past,” said Noonan. “That’s where the standard is in AAAA football and if you are going to be a team that plays deep into the cold weather, we have to be able to compete against those guys.”
Offensively, junior Bailey Hart (6-3, 165) is set to lead the Wando offense after playing most of last season. Hart directs a unit with several returning weapons and the potential to be quite balanced and difficult to defend.
“Bailey is a good quarterback and we rely on him to make the right decisions and execute the offense,” said Noonan. “We have some weapons around him. We want to spread it around. We have some guys who can do good things with the football. The hard part is getting enough touches for all of them.”
Senior Kenny Waring is one of the top returning running backs in the state. Waring rushed for 1,450 yards and scored 18 touchdowns. Adding depth in the backfield are Kevin Brown and Ryan Williams.
Hart has options in the passing game. Senior Zola Davis (6-2, 205) at receiver and senior tight end Ben Jacques are two primary targets. Jacques, a 6-6, 220-pound target, has verbally committed to Charlotte.
Senior Darius Wade (6-3, 180) and sophomore Ortre Smith (6-4, 204) also figure into the passing game as well.
The lone returning starter along the offensive line is senior guard Daniel Runck (6-3, 286) but Noonan feels the offensive line can be a solid unit.
On defense, the strength is at linebacker where seniors Tyler Ragsdale and Ryan Williams return as starters. Ragsdale (6-2, 215) led Wando with 82 tackles last season. He was injured during the preseason and will likely miss the season opener.
Wade and Smith are expected to see action in the secondary, along with Terrell Venning.