Prep football: Tinsley returns to high school game with GW
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- The George Washington High School football program will have a new face to help guide the Patriot offense in 2013.
Former South Charleston quarterback Jon Alexander, a senior who left SC in midseason last year to attend Hargrave Military Academy, has returned to the Kanawha Valley and enrolled at GW.
And yet, that might not be the biggest piece of news coming out of the South Hills. On the field at Joan C. Edwards Stadium with the Patriots on Wednesday was none other than former WVU Tech, West Virginia State and Nitro Coach Scott Tinsley, clad in GW's burgundy and gray.
"I've known Steve for a long time, and I wanted to get back into coaching football," Tinsley said during a break in play during the second day of Marshall's 7-on-7 showcase Wednesday.
"I've just been here for three days, though, so I'm still learning a lot of the personnel and getting used to things again," Tinsley said. "It's good to be back though."
Tinsley was the head coach at Nitro for six years from 2002-07, compiling a record of 51-20 and taking the Wildcats to the 2005 Class AAA state championship game, where they fell in overtime to Morgantown.
His most successful era in Nitro came as former Coach Robert Burdette's offensive coordinator. In that role, Tinsley figured heavily in the Wildcats' 1998 state championship by guiding the offense led by national record-breaking quarterback and two-time Kennedy Award winner J.R. House.
Tinsley produced a Kennedy winner as a head coach as well. Running back Josh Culbertson won the award in 2005.
"We've been good friends for a while. He and I have just never been in a situation when we've been able to work together," Edwards said. "We worked together at North-South before, but we've been friends for a long, long time, going back to when we were in high school."I'm only as good as the people I get to play for us and I'm only as good as the people that work with me," Edwards said. "Any time you can get a good football mind -- and I think we've got some really good football minds -- you just take advantage of it."
Numerous programs throughout the Kanawha Valley had courted Tinsley since WVU Tech announced it was shutting down its football program in 2011, his alma mater included. However, no opportunity came to full bloom until recently, he said.
"I had looked into going to Hurricane there for a while," Tinsley said. "It just didn't work out. That's the way things go sometimes. I'm just glad that it looks like things are going in the right direction here."
The graduation losses of two-time Kennedy winner Ryan Switzer and two-time All-State linebacker/fullback Dustin Crouser will give Edwards and Tinsley plenty to do in the three-week out-of-season coaching period that began Monday.
Alexander will be at quarterback but needs to learn the GW offense, Edwards said. Austin Giacomo and Jacob Jackson appear to be GW's primary receivers and emerging defensive star Zach Malone will likely take Crouser's spot at fullback.
"We're doing a lot more teaching this spring than we did last year, and that can be a good thing," Edwards said. "It gets the kids into a competitive mode because nobody really knows their roles yet.
"A lot of times when you have that, kids will learn a system quicker because they know they have to push themselves harder."
Alexander completed 76-of-136 passes for 1,002 yards, seven touchdowns and eight interceptions with South Charleston last year. He left the team after the Black Eagles' 20-17 win over Capital on Sept. 21.
Freshman Kentre Grier replaced Alexander in the third quarter of that game to lead a comeback from a 17-0 deficit. Grier finished the season as the SC starter and completed 82-of-122 passes for 1,549 yards, 17 TDs and one interception.
Edwards said the best quality Alexander possesses might be his desire to improve.
"He wants it," Edwards said. "That's key. He wants to come in and get better. He wants to learn the system and be a better player."
George Washington opens the regular season on Thursday, Aug. 29 at home against South Charleston.
Contact Preps Editor Derek Taylor at email@example.com or 304-348-5170. Follow him on Twitter @ItsreallyDT