Go, again, Whirlies

So, tonight, it begins.  Every Friday night from now until the snow almost flies will find the Hoggard clan occupying hot… and later in the season, cold… aluminum or concrete bleachers in area high school football stadiums.  The 2006 rendition of the Grimsley Whirlies take the field tonight.

Topping the experience of last year’s state championship run will be difficult, but The Whirlies are favored to at least take the Metro 4-A title again this year.  Hopefully that will translate into a follow-up title game trip to Raleigh in December.

Our Jackson (#70) didn’t get a lot of playing time last year, but this year, his senior season, he will.  He gained back most of the thirty pounds he lost during the stressful summer leading up to his junior year and will be checking in at O and D tackle at around 205 lbs tonight.  

Over the past month or so, I have watched several of the team’s practices and been impressed with the amount of conditioning the team has been enduring, especially those weeks of 95 – 100 degree days when the rest of us couldn’t even walk outside.  During one recent sweltering practice, I spoke with head coach Todd Shuping and simply asked, “…how are they doing.”  “Compared to last year, we are about a light year ahead of where we were at this time.”, he answered.

They are going to need and appreciate all of the running they have been put through this year if the team has a vulnerability it would be their thin ranks.  Last year, with few exceptions, the Whirlies had enough seasoned players to field a ‘two-platoon’ offense and defense, but ‘going both ways’ will be more of the norm this season… especially among the hosses manning the front lines.

Quarterback Josh Stewart, who was sidelined for the last half of the ’05 season, is back to full strength and throwing the ball like a rifle.  Joining him as a back-up QB is a transfer starter from Eastern Guilford, (his name has escaped me) Zach Maynard.  This long, lanky kid can throw pretty well – but his real threat is in his running abilities.

One of the bonafide stars from last year, kicker Gavin Segal-Abrams, is out for the first six few weeks with a back injury.  Our kicking game will be a question mark until his return.  The other day I saw several guys trying out as place kickers and punters… but Gavin’s long-yard, deadly accurate consistency will be difficult to replace.

So anyway… we are psyched and ready for a long season of Whirlie footbal.  Jinni’s and my regular seats at Jamieson Stadium are right in front of Grimsley’s crowd-pleasing “Blue Steel” drum line.  Stop by and say “hey”, but don’t linger long… we have a game to watch.

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2 Comments

  1. Posted August 18, 2006 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    Looking forward to the Grimsley season this year. I hear the PA at my place and it’s a short walk. I made it to one regular season game and I was thinking hard about going to the playoff game that Crest forfeited. The hitting has sounded good when I’ve taken the dog for a walk through Lake Daniel Park. Good luck.

  2. Larry Standley
    Posted August 19, 2006 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    Saw the game last night (am a Western Guilford fan). The Grimsley QB breakaways were really impressive.
    Grimsley coaches managed the game with class and looked like most of the team bench got playing time and the team got a good shakedown for what could be a fine season.