FORT WAYNE – You’ve probably heard it before. It takes three years under a new football coach for the players to really get it, for the program to really take off.
At Woodlan, it’s Year 3 under Sherwood Haydock, and that means no more excuses.
“As much as you hate to admit that, when you first start, it does take about three years,” said Haydock, who quickly added: “When I was at Harding, in Year 4, we won the conference and went on to the (2006) state championship.”
That ought to get the expectations rolling at Woodlan, where Haydock has accumulated a 4-16 record, including a 3-7 mark last year.
But things should be different this season; the Warriors didn’t lose much to graduation, have one of the best running backs (Jaylin Bennett) in the area, and they proved down the stretch in 2012 that they can compete with the best.
They lost by four points to Garrett, by five points to Leo and, in the first round of sectionals, lost 23-8 to Bishop Luers, which won the Class 2A state title.
“Basically, the whole offense is back except (all-state receiver) T.J. Sewell, and we’re ready to go,” fullback/defensive end Deandre Woods said. “We took some tough losses but hopefully we’re ready to not take those anymore.”
The Warriors have an immense offensive line – including Jake Sommers (6-foot-2, 240 pounds), Garret Van Brocklin (6-1, 270), Elliot Gunderman (6-2, 284) and Austin Conner (6-1, 240) – and Haydock raved about its potential.
“They are experienced, and they are big, big, big,” said Haydock, who is 137-135 all time. “This is the biggest line I’ve ever had.”
And the skill positions are packed with terrific athletes.
“Our skill positions are fast,” Haydock said, “so we’re big and fast, but not together.”
Even though Haydock-coached teams always have a knack for passing – and quarterback Corbin Smith is back after throwing for 980 yards and 14 touchdowns last year – the focal point of the offense will be Bennett, who rushed for 1,089 yards and 12 touchdowns last season.
After playing three games as a tight end, he set the school rushing record, while setting single-game highs in yards (236) and carries (42).
Defensively, the Warriors have some playmakers, including defensive back Greg White, who returned two interceptions for touchdowns, and middle linebacker Myrich Thieme, a three-year starter.
“I think we’ll win more than last year,” Haydock said. “We’re expecting big things (and) could be a real sleeper this year.”
But that depends on whether the players really have it all down in Year 3 of the Haydock regime.
“He’s X’ing and O’ing all the time,” Woods said. “He always has a new play to throw in. There’s always something, somewhere and you never know what’s going to happen.”