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Woodstock coach preaches patience as champs attempt to reload

  • Woodstock quarterback Trevor White rolls out on a passing drill during the first day of practice below their playing field at Woodstock Union High School in Woodstock, Vt., on Aug. 12, 2019. In 2018, the Wasps went undefeated and won the Division III championship. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Woodstock head coach Ramsey Worrell shows the receivers how he wants them to catch the ball during the first day of practice in Woodstock, Vt., on Aug. 12, 2019. In his seventh season, Worrell returns with a younger team than the championship-winning undefeated squad that graduated a dozen. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Woodstock's Audrey Emery takes a handoff from teammate Ryan Leonard (21) as Robby Macri waits in line during the team's first day of practice in Woodstock, Vt., on Aug. 12, 2019. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Sports Editor
Tuesday, August 13, 2019

WOODSTOCK — Ramsey Worrell claims he’s a patient man. He’ll need to be — he has a 1-year-old tearing around the house now.

The Woodstock High football coach and his wife, Noelle, welcomed their son Colt into the world on June 13 last year. Colt made his debut at the Wasps’ football games last autumn during a season in which Worrell’s charges could seemingly do no wrong.

Patience won’t be a problem for Worrell on the gridiron this fall, either, although the seventh-year coach faces some unaccustomed challenges. He has only a half-dozen upperclassmen returning from a squad that treated VPA Division III like so much pavement en route to an undefeated state championship. It’s likely sophomores — and maybe a freshman or two — will have to learn quickly to prepare for foes who will have last season’s encounters burned into their frontal lobes by memory or a ready-for-payback coach.

“That’s one of my best virtues: I’m a very patient man off this field,” Worrell said on Tuesday on the Wasps’ lower field as 22 players warmed up for their second workout of the still-young preseason.

“I’m less patient on the field, but I know how to be patient. Inevitably, at some point, there’s a time when you’ve got to get ready to play high school football games. There’s a certain level you have to get to to do it. ... We’ll have to get to that regardless of my patience.”

Woodstock didn’t so much buzz its way to its 11th state title in program history as steamroll the opposition in 2018. The Wasps went 10-0 and were rarely challenged, outscoring foes, 410-89, courtesy of a senior-laden roster.

Now, the transition: A dozen players have graduated, taking 48 of last year’s 56 offensive touchdowns with them. Once a few late-summer stragglers make it to training camp, Worrell hopes for a squad in the mid-20s, smaller than that to which he’s accustomed.

“I knew coming into the season that we were going to be lower-than-normal numbers,” Worrell said. “We were going to be very young, in age and experience. So the preparation started about halfway through the summer on how we were going to handle this. This is a first time for us being this young.”

The cupboard isn’t completely bare, of course.

It’s of considerable help that Woodstock’s wing-T backfield will have at least three players familiar with it. Senior quarterback Trevor White is most notable, having guided the Wasps the last three years. Classmate Dan Lessard is one of two running backs who saw significant time in 2018, and Worrell is leaning on both veterans to get the newcomers up to speed.

“I’m a three-sport athlete, so off-season for football is on-season for a lot of other sports,” said White, who threw for 622 yards and 12 touchdowns last fall. “For this summer, it was mostly just football. We did seven-on-seven stuff, all throwing, and as a quarterback, that’s what I’m all about.”

White pointed to one benefit of such a dominant 2018: The youngsters who were part of it either got game reps in Woodstock’s frequent blowouts or spent the season learning from experienced upperclassmen. That should pay dividends in the new campaign.

“Having so many seniors and having so many upperclassmen has rubbed off on these guys,” White said. “They know what to do.”

Worrell is willing to be patient while his new team forms a new identity. Tuesday’s participants took to drills with enthusiasm. Learning will come with time, teaching and repetition.

“Basics, fundamentals, how we do things,” Worrell said. “One of the things we’re going to focus on is we’re not going to move any faster than they get it. They need to prove they’re learning it before we move on to the next thing.”

That’s a good thing. Because a little future Wasp will be there to watch.

“I’m looking forward to that first game when he can run out after the game,” Worrell said of Colt, “because he’s running. He’s on the move.”

As are the Wasps.

Audibles: Corey White, Woodstock’s other veteran returning back, will join the squad once he gets back from a school-sponsored trip to Africa in the next few days. … Worrell had hoped to have senior Gage Lory back as a tight end and linebacker this season. Unfortunately, Lory completed his high school requirements a year early and is now studying at Castleton University. … Woodstock’s preseason roster includes a freshman lineman from Mid Vermont Christian School, the Wasps’ first contribution from the VPA’s member-to-member sports program. “It seems like we’re falling behind in that,” Worrell said of member-to-member. “It seems like everybody’s doing that.” ... The Wasps are scheduled to scrimmage D-I Hartford and D-II Brattleboro next week before their Aug. 30 season opener at James McLaughlin Field with D-II Lyndon. “What they’re lacking in experience,” Worrell said, “they’re going to get tenfold, potentially, in their first two scrimmages.”

Greg Fennell can be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.