Jeremy Taylor coached two seasons at Hurricane Middle School before taking over for Willis May at Hurricane High.
For most high school football players, the three-week approved practice period in June provides them a chance to prepare before preseason workouts begin in late July or early August.
For players at both Hurricane and Winfield, it is more than important to do such prep work this early.
That's because the two Putnam County schools have new coaches for this season. Jeremy Taylor takes over at Hurricane and Craig Snyder is now at the helm of Winfield.
Taylor, a former Hurricane standout, has spent the last two seasons as coach at Hurricane Middle. He took over for Willis May, who relocated to Florida this past winter. May went 59-30 in eight seasons and led the Redskins to six playoff appearances.
"When I left for the middle school, I took Willis' system with me," said Taylor. "I'm a believer in teaching them while they're young, and when it's early."
The Redskins have spent most of their off-season practices in 7-on-7 drills, but also spent some time at a camp at Cabell Midland.
"Nearly 90 percent of my kids had never been to a camp before," said Taylor. "It was a good experience for them, plus we got to see some other coaches from the area."
Taylor looks to continue focusing on his younger players for the rest of the out-of-season practice.
"We've got to build for our future and it starts with our freshmen and sophomores," said Taylor. "We're going to continue to give them looks and see if they are ready. It will pay off big dividends in the future for us."
While the change has been subtle at Hurricane, it has been more massive 81/2 miles away in Winfield. Snyder, an assistant at Winfield since 2000, takes over for Willie Wilson, who went 19-31 in five seasons.
The majority of the Generals' out-of-season practice was spent in the weight room.
"Attendance in the weight room has been the best since I've been here," said Snyder. "It's something that started this past February when I took over. We struggled to get some guys to buy into the change, but they're starting to get excited about it, and it all began in the weight room."
With Winfield's focus on lifting, there have only been a couple of days spent on the field.
"We've hosted both Buffalo and South Charleston for 7-on-7s," said Snyder. "Then we went to South Charleston, where we had a split practice - each other's offense versus defense. It gave us a chance to do a little more football stuff."
But after the second week, Snyder decided to stop Winfield's practices, citing that he did not want his players to exhaust themselves. He also said that it would give his team a chance to refocus in the weight room.
One other change the Generals will contend with is the loss of running back David Gaydosz, who transferred to Cabell Midland earlier this month. Gaydosz rushed for 1,071 yards and scored 12 touchdowns last season, becoming Winfield's first 1,000-yard rusher since the 1980s.
Snyder, however, remains focused on his task at hand and who is on his team.
"One player does not make a team," said Snyder. "And our team is much bigger than just one player. We're still going to be very competitive this season, work hard and put a good product out on the field."
Reach Dave Miller at 304-348-1749 or firstname.lastname@example.org