by Andy Hilton, recruit757
Wayne Lance has seen more highs than lows while coaching at Atlantic Shores. Though the Seahawks failed to make the VISAA playoffs last year, Lance has seen success in many seasons. So much so that opponents have been reluctant to schedule his team. Because of that, the Shores program has hit the road looking for games. They’re doing a lot of traveling again this year, but Coach Lance expects that his bunch is coming in ready to compete in a big way.
“I love this team. They’ve done a great job, especially at committing to the weight room in the offseason, so I’ve just had a blast working every day with them,” said the coach. “Through the summer they’ve been very committed.”
Football at Atlantic Shores, like many other private school programs, is Ironman Football. All of the best players play an offensive and defensive position, taking few snaps off.
“Our offense lost some great kids in our senior class. We lost two of our leading receivers, our two key running backs and our First Team All-State Quarterback. Any time you lose guys like that, there’s obviously some concerns,” the coach explained. “Fortunately, we have kids in our system that have been part of our program (for a long time). We’re not in a situation where we’re panicking. We have an opportunity for kids to step up and show us that they can play at a high level.”
Joe Beauchamp steps into a full time role at quarterback after seeing time at the position as a junior last year. Noah Babcock will be the backup at quarterback and play receiver as well. Tim Little will play several roles in the offense. Omari Banks will play tight end again this season for the Seahawks.
“We can do several things with Omari. He can line up as a running back. He can line up as an H-Back. He can line up as a receiver. He has some size to go along with his speed,” Lance said.
Mitchell Byrum was a defensive starter last year and will see time on both sides of the ball, adding tight end and H-Back to his responsibilities this year. Nick Ostrander will see time on the offense as a sophomore.
“We’re looking to play a lot of guys at receiver, so we’re expecting guys like Cody York, Jacob Newton and Wes Holloway to come in and be the guys, get in the rotation, get in the mix and contribute,” said the coach. “The running back position comes down to Reid Stowe, Davis Watson and Mike Gorsky right now. We have some younger guys who are looking to make some noise, but they’re younger guys right now. They’ll have a chance to prove themselves.”
On the lines, Shores will be bolstered by the arrival of Booker T. Washington transfer Keith Willie. Willie instantly proved himself to the coaching staff and the players by leading the way in the weightroom in the summer. He was an offensive lineman for the Bookers. At Atlantic Shores, he’ll play both ways.
The Seahawk defense is retooled for 2012.
“Davis Watson comes back. He’s one of our leading tacklers along with Omari Banks and Mitchell Byrum. Those guys were the core of our defense. We’re looking for John Beauchamp to step it up. He’s done well. When we put full pads on, he’s ready to step it up. Mike Gorsky is in his first year of playing football, but he’s in great shape. Tim Little and Sam Stainback should see a lot of time at corner.”
In practice, position battles would have sorted everything out, but Lance might go into the season a little conflicted in his choices. The Seahawks have a lot of depth on the defensive line. Coach Lance is excited about the possibility of having enough players to have a rotation with his defensive linemen.
For the first time in years, the Seahawks play 11 games this year with no bye. That could prove especially difficult with a squad that’s stretched this to begin with.
“We’ve told them that we have 11 games and want to show them what we can do to get in the playoffs,” said Lance. “We really love playing football. If we love playing football, (the eleventh game) is just another game.”
The Seahawks face off against a tough schedule of opponents this fall. Coach Lance has to manage expectations to keep his kids on track.
“We know we have to manage our schedule and take it one game at a time,” Coach Lance stated. “We play all four playoff teams that finished ahead of us last year in Isle of Wight, North Cross, Fredricksburg Christian and Norfolk Christian. We have other divisional games against VES (Virginia Epicsopal) and Portsmouth Christian, plus we have a game against Riverdale Baptist, and they’re huge. We have a lot of dfferent offenses (we can present); different styles, different sizes, that will be unique and exciting.”
Atlantic Shores has a chance to make it to the postseason once again. They’ll have time to put the pieces together early in the season, but they’ll have to grab the wins that will put them in playoff contention by October. The Seahawks open on the road at First Flight (Manteo, NC) this weekend.
– Andy Hilton