Prep football: Winfield looks to improve passing attack
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Winfield's struggle to compete in football since joining Class AAA in 2008 may be left in the past with second-year Coach Craig Snyder's emphasis on an improved work ethic.
"Our best record since we moved up to Class AAA was 4-6, yet we've remained to stay mathematically alive for the postseason," Snyder said Tuesday, as Winfield enters the midpoint of the three-week out-of-season coaching period.
The Generals head into the 2013 season with their first schedule ever made by the Mountain State Athletic Conference. Although they had 10 Class AAA teams in last year's schedule, Snyder says this year will be their toughest yet in terms of their schedule.
"We lost multiple players to injury, and in general we lost some seniors on the line. Three of our returning offensive linemen will also play defense and the younger ones will have to rebuild," Snyder said.
Although with smaller-than-average offensive and defensive lines, Snyder hopes to give the MSAC a surprise in the fall.
"We aren't going to be the bigger team. We lack numbers, and in size we won't intimidate," he said. "Therefore, in these summer weeks we are going to improve strength and conditioning to stay in shape. The only way we will get around big teams is speed and endurance.
"Defensively, we've got to be fast. We mentally weren't in games last season and lacked aggression. If we can be stronger and move better, our offense will answer itself."
Winfield senior quarterback Toby Show and senior wide receiver Chris Turner will be the key offensive elements in the equation to Snyder's quest for a winning season.
"Chris Turner is a matchup nightmare for any team we face," Snyder said.
Turner comes into this season as the state's third-leading receiver among Class AAA returnees with 48 receptions for 656 yards in 2012. He scored six touchdowns last season, but his numbers could be improved by some additional support, Snyder said.
"Chris Turner gets the job done, but we need Toby Show to throw more, and with more confidence in his team. It again all comes down to improving the guys up front to ensure offensive success. Show needs more time to throw the ball, and that is something we're working on," Snyder said.
A year ago, Winfield relied heavily on running back Seth Lewis to gain yardage. Lewis became the first Generals running back in more than a decade to surpass the 1,000-yard rushing mark in a season. He finished the year with 1,281 yards on 238 carries.
Show returns as Class AAA's third-highest returning passer after completing 134 of 278 passes for 1,507 yards last year. He threw14 touchdown passes but also had 17 interceptions.
If Winfield can give Show more time to throw the ball, Snyder hopes his team might be able to contend for an elusive playoff spot. The Generals haven't been to the postseason since 2005, when they were still in Class AA.
"We are going to be faster, more aggressive, and just as in shape as the rest of these teams we face," Snyder said. "It's going to come down to utilizing our speed, and ensuring solid defense."
The Generals open the regular season Aug. 30 against Beckley at home.