MADISON — Scott High School head coach Shane Griffith has installed the slogan, "Be the Beginning" as part of the new narrative and culture around the Scott High School football program.
The slogan can be found in the weight room, on dry erase boards and on lockers throughout the team facility. Griffith believes in using carefully crafted phrases to encapsulate team goals and the character of the players behind the face masks.
"What struck me immediately was the coachability of these kids," Griffith said. "They came in in February and they wanted to learn about the weight room and conditioning. They were young men who wanted to be shown, told and taught."
This isn't the old ball coach's first rodeo as a coach. Griffith, the all-time wins leader in school history (98), returned to the sideline after a brief hiatus from Skyhawk gridiron coaching when he became the principal at cross-county Van High School, where he coached for a season and later resigned to accept another teaching position with the West Virginia Department of Education and now calls the Boone Career and Technical Center home during the day.
In his first tenure at Scott, Griffith led the Skyhawks to six straight Class AA playoff appearances. In 2007, a Griffith-led squad made it to the semifinals.
This season, the coach inherits a squad that went 1-9 in 2018 and failed to win a Cardinal Conference game. Over the last three seasons, the team compiled an 8-22 record with the lone 2018 victory coming at Class A St. Marys, who was ranked No. 3 at the time.
"We had to instill confidence," he said. "When a dog has been beaten and he's scared and his tail was tucked, that was almost the atmosphere we walked into. When you create competitive moments within the weight room or through conditioning, we didn't see belief or confidence. We realized early on we had to get them to believe in themselves. The only way to do that is to create an environment every single day where they have to compete at something, regardless of how simple it is."
Griffith doesn't look in the rearview mirror, he says that he's focused on 2019 and beyond.
"I'm not that guy," he said. "I don't coach that way. Yesterday has lessons attached to it, tomorrow has a vision to it but the only thing that matters is today."
From the standpoint of offensive and defensive strategy, Griffith said that he has combined what he knows will work in West Virginia high school football and the process of evaluating his roster to work to team strengths.
"You have to adapt but you also have to rely on what you know," he said. "There was a time when I would base a game plan on what personnel could do against a specific opponent. This time around, as a staff we've accumulated over 20 years of what worked. This offense we're opening up this year is several years in the making. We don't list quarterbacks, running backs and receivers. We have five lineman and six skill guys. There will be a lot of action."
With the WVSSAC's implementation of a 40-second play clock, Griffith sees an opportunity to shrink the game even more.
"I can take forty five seconds off every time I run a dive," he said.
"Five seconds to run the play and a 40-seocnd clock. Not a lot can go wrong. Sometimes that is your best narrative. Sometimes the best narrative isn't to win the game on one play but that you don't put yourself in a position to lose the game."
Junior Michael Clay returns to the backfield as a quarterback and will play heavily into the team's offense, as will Caleb Dingess who has been taking reps as a receiver but multiple players will take snaps from a variety of formations in the Skyhawks' new offense. Dingess will double as a play maker from the defensive backfield.
Griffith was quick to promote the "team" concept and put less emphasis on individual players.
Dingess said that he is looking forward to debuting the new offense.
"I like it," he said. "Its pretty exciting and a lot of guys get to touch the ball."
The senior leader said that he has been working to improve his game.
"I knew that I wanted to get bigger, get stronger and still keep quickness and what speed I have," he said. "Playing for coach Griffith is really good. He expects a lot of you and he teaches you to expect a lot of yourself and all of your teammates. I think we all feel that way."
Griffith said that Dingess is going to be counted on as leader in 2019.
"Caleb represents a small group of seniors we have this year," he said. "Typically what you want to see is that number of seniors grow since their freshman year.
For whatever reason, this is a senior class that for the most part, chose not to play. I'm very happy to have the four that did choose to play and be a part of this program. Caleb will play a variety of roles. We're going to utilize him in many areas offensively. We want to maximize his skill set and we won't pin him into a position but allow him within an offensive framework to do many things. Defensively, he'll be sitting at free safety. Having that senior experience behind a young defense is priceless for us as coaches."
Junior Dane Messer will help anchor a young linebacking corps.
Scott will open their season with Cardinal Conference foe Herbert Hoover at home on Aug. 30 before traveling to St. Marys in week two.
"I can't say enough about the support we've received from the community and our parents," Griffith added. "We are all a part of a family.
Skyhawks take care of each other. This community needs to experience a game where the fourth quarter matters. They need to experience a season where game 10 matters. I've never been shy about communicating our team goal for every season and that is the playoffs."
The coach said that reconnecting with the Skyhawk program that he played for and coached for has rekindled his passion for the game.
"I think I forgot that I loved black and gold football and I think that maybe the community forgot that, too," he said. "I hope that the last three years have shown me that I do love black and gold football because it is who I am. I know how lucky I am. I walked away for three years and came back with a coaching staff in place that was ready to get to work. There is integrity, there is passion and there are goals."
Griffith's coaching staff includes Nick Shreve as Defensive Coordinator, Mickey
Thompson is the Offensive Line and Linebackers Coach, Will Hatfield is the
Offensive Coordinator, Josh Craddock is the Special Teams Coach, Ryan Price is the Defensive Line Coach, Mike Epling coaches multiple areas, Steve Flores works with offensive line and linebackers, Chuck Dunlap is the team manager and
Bob Connolly and Chris Connolly serve in management roles for the team. Bryan Justice returns as the trainer.
Listen to Joe Linville, the voice of the Skyhawks once again on WVOW 101.9 FM and 1290 AM radio with game time coverage.
Reporter Phil Perry can be reached at email@example.com or call 304-307-2402.
2019 Scott High School
Aug. 30: *Herbert Hoover, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 6: St. Marys, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 13: *at Sissonville, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 20: OPEN DATE
Sept. 27: *at Chapmanville, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 4: *Wayne, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 11: *at Logan, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 18: *Mingo Central, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 25: *at Poca, 7 p.m.
Nov. 1: *Winfield, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 8: *at Nitro, 7 p.m.
*Cardinal Conference game
2019 Scott High School Football Roster
No. Name Year Position Weight Height
88 Gavin Aguillian 9 DE/G 170 5-7
71 Cory Balentine 12 DE/DT 190 5-10
4 Adam Berry 11 C/WR 135 5-8
21 Jason Berry 10 LB/WR 140 5-6
80 Isaiah Brown 9 LB/C 170 5-8
Addison Brown 10 LB/RB 150 5-6
2 Michael Clay 11 LB/QB 205 6
33 Kadin Clemmons 9 LB/WR 180 6-1
41 Jacob Krupe 9 LB/T 170 5-11
1 Caleb Dingess 12 S/RB 210 6-1
17 Issac Doss 11 S/WR 160 5-10
68 Ryan Elkins 10 DE/T 250 6-3
51 Will Elkins 10 DT/C 260 5-10
55 Ridge Flores 9 LB/G 180 5-11
Ian Gillispie 11 K 155 6
46 Byron Gulliot 12 LB/WR 155 5-7
Drew Hager 11 DE/WR 185 6-1
64 Donnie Hicks 9 LB/G 140 5-11
24 Caleb Hughes 11 C/RB 165 6-2
52 Trey Johnson 12 LB/G 245 5-10
32 Pete Laton 9 DE/T 150 5-9
Hayden Lawson 10 DT/T 195 5-11
87 Chance Loftis 9 C/WR 120 5-4
7 Cooper Martin 10 C/WR 150 5-7
10 Kyle Matthews 10 C/WR 145 5-6
12 Clay Matthews 9 LB/RB 135 5-5
53 Leon May 12 DE/T 140 6
25 Jeffrey McCoy 11 S/WR 145 5-8
20 Dane Messer 11 LB/RB 140 5-7
49 Cole Mitchell 11 LB/WR 175 6
60 Cody Nantz 10 DE/T 255 6-3
5 Jayden Sharps 9 S/QB 120 5-7
59 Gavin Sutphin 10 DT/G 195 5-5
13 Elijah Toler 12 S/WR 160 6
78 Cooper Vint 9 DT/T 200 5-6
76 Ethan Weaver 10 DT/T 310 5-10
74 Eli White 10 DE/T 190 6
56 James Carter 10 DE/T 220 6