HURRICANE, W.Va. - Talent, size and execution all breed success, though the formula for the Hurricane football team also includes creating depth.
The Redskins returned just four starters under first-year Coach Jeremy Taylor for what many perhaps thought would be a rebuilding year after reaching the Class AAA playoff quarterfinals in 2011. By creating depth across the positions, however, Taylor has unveiled a plan that has fostered immediate returns for the Redskins, as well as the base for the program's future.
The team is ranked ninth in the Secondary School Activities Commission's Class AAA playoff standings this week. The top 16 teams qualify for the playoffs, which begin Nov. 9.
"We're starting 18 new guys, and a lot of teams say we're starting 18 new guys, but really it's nine guys on offense and those same nine are playing (defense)," Taylor said. "I've got 18 kids that are new, but they're playing, they're getting experience, and that's huge for the future, and it's huge for this year."
After back-to-back wins against Winfield and Nitro to start the season, Hurricane dropped a tough 35-34 contest at Beckley. Then, George Washington defeated the Redskins 41-15.
Following a bye week, Hurricane (6-3) responded with three straight wins to dispel any 'Here we go again' groans.
Junior quarterback Austin Hensley, one of the team's few returning starters from 2011, said it was a turning point that put the Redskins back on track.
"We came together as a group," he said. "We talked about it and said we have to come together right now and we got to make a playoff run, so that's what we've done. That's the goal since day one, is to make a playoff run."
Following the 2-2 start, the players exhibited heart, and so did the staff to believe in the inexperienced group, Taylor said.
Taylor added in years past players might have been pulled too quickly after making mistakes or used too much by playing both offensive and defensive positions.
With a 55-27 loss to Spring Valley in Week 9, Hurricane essentially faced a playoff play-in game with Logan on Friday. As they did earlier in the season, the Redskins overcame adversity with a 41-14 win against the Wildcats.
The key is trust in the players, giving them experience to learn from miscues and building depth at the same time, Taylor said.