Nelson County Football Takes Winning Streak into 2012
The Nelson County High School football team played six home games last season but finished the campaign 2-7.
The Governors are scheduled to play seven road games this year, including their first five away from home, but a little success at the end of 2011 might go a long way in 2012.
Nelson has only won four games total in the last three seasons, but the Governors ended 2011 with back-to-back wins.
"We want to build on that success at the end of the season," said head coach Mark Wells. "Our kids that we have back took that to heart. We've been trying to change the culture. Winning is a culture. You got to know you're going to win. Don't just get off the bus and say, 'I hope we win.' Knowing you're going to win, it creates a lot of positive attitudes toward the team."
"A lot of people did get discouraged last year, but after we won those two games, I think of lot of people are that we can do it this year and win a lot more games this year," said senior center Danny Ellis. "Middle of the season, a lot of people started getting more down, started talking about quitting and all that. After we started winning the last two games, this season, people are like we can win a lot more with that. I think we can put a lot more success in this season than last year."
Leading the way is versatile senior quarterback Tyler Vest, who played quarterback, running back, wide receiver, kick returner, and defensive back last season.
"I feel a whole lot on my shoulders this year," said Vest. "I felt a whole lot last year, but this year is definitely different."
"Tyler is just a great quarterback to deal with, and he can understand the whole plays," said Ellis, who earned Dogwood District honorable mention at center last year. "He has the combination of brains and physical strength and speed that he has to get the ball down the field."
"There's no secret," said Wells. "Everybody knows that we want to get the ball in his hands. It's a tremendous lift having that guy, because he understands what we're talking about."
The Nelson offense is transitioning from the option and single wing in 2011 to the pistol formation this year.
"It's fast," Vest said. "I like that."
An experienced offensive line, and one of the biggest at Nelson since when former UVA lineman B.J. Cabbell played, will help.
"It's a big advantage, because a lot of teams at this level spread it out and try to throw the ball," said Wells, who's entering his third season at Nelson's head coach. "We've been fortunate to have some kids like them to be able to run the ball and control the clock."
"It makes me feel real good, because I know in the past years that we didn't have such a big O-line," said Vest. "I can barely see over them. Not only are they big, but they're fast, so I like it a lot."
With six returning starters on offense and defense, the team is planning to build on the winning streak that ended last season.
"We're very hungry actually," said Ellis. "That weighed on me since last year, because the year before that, we also had a losing season, so it's just been chomping at the bit for me to get a winning season."
"The little success we had at the end of the season, the kids in the hallways and everything was excited," said Wells. "I've seen some kids around this summer come up and say, 'Coach, you going to win like you did last year at the end of the season?' I said, 'Yeah, definitely.' It's a buzz going. This group reminds me of groups way back in the early 2000s. It's more of a team. In the past, we had some teams, guys, that was kind of selfish. I think this team is really understanding what the word team mean."
"All of our sports, we're pretty good in the winning bracket," said Vest, who earned Dogwood District honorable mention as a cornerback last year. "We like to win. We just want to take that on to our football field."
Nelson also returns junior offensive lineman Homer Bennett, who earned Dogwood District honorable mention last year.
On defense, senior linebacker William Brown is the leading tackler of those returning. He earned Dogwood District honorable mention last year. Brown also plays fullback.
Kenny Patrick will join him in the linebacking unit and will also play tight end.
NCHS graduated a "pretty big class with lots of speed," according to Wells. That included running back Rodrell Smith, a second-team all-district performer, and Jerome Glover, who also earned second-team All-Dogwood as an athlete. Leading tackler Clayton Clarkson, who earned Dogwood District honorable mention at linebacker last year, also graduated.
The Governors gave up over 36 points a game in 2011 (331 total) and averaged 18 points a night (162 total).
Nelson opens the season August 24th at William Monroe at 7:30.
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