Warriors take different approach for new season preparations

Published 10:06 am Tuesday, June 18, 2024

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The Happy Valley Warriors are preparing for the 2024 season after a remarkable turnaround in 2023 that earned them a playoff berth, rebounding from three straight losses to open the season to finish 7-3.

Heading into the new season, head coach Jason Jarrett, entering his 11th season at the helm, is implementing changes aimed at fostering a deeper bond between players and coaches while creating lasting memories for his team.

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“We are going to an FCA team camp at Tennessee Tech and spend a couple of nights in a dorm,” said Jarrett. “I felt like we were stuck in some old ways as coaches after being together for 10 years and decided to let these guys see what life was like in college while attending some FCA events over those two days.

“There will be 10 teams there, and there will be a lot of 7-on-7 for the offense while the linemen will also have a camp with Tennessee Tech players and our coaches. I hope that it will be a good bonding session and provide more opportunities for the kids. It gives us the chance as coaches to get them out and have fun while making memories and learning some life lessons.”

The Warriors will begin the season with a roster of about 40 players. Jarrett noted that the work put in at the weight room is already showing early dividends.

“The kids have made big strides in the weight room,” said Jarrett. “We are looking good at the offensive and defensive line positions and may have at least eight to nine players who can rotate in. They have been working hard and are way stronger. We have had five players who have already squatted over 500 pounds.”

Another change this season will be the first scrimmage, which will take place on the turf at Carson-Newman University.

“We reached out to Oliver Springs, and we are going to scrimmage at Carson-Newman,” said Jarrett. “It will be good because Oliver Springs is always in the playoffs in their division and they are a team that we don’t get to see or play. We are just wanting to do things outside the area and show our kids off a little bit.”

Jarrett said there is a good breakdown in players, with approximately 10 players from each class out of a 400-strong student body.

The Warriors lost six key seniors to graduation, and Jarrett believes staying healthy is crucial for success in 2024.

“We had a ton of injuries in the first three weeks in 2023,” said Jarrett. “We have to stay healthy, and our depth is going to be crucial.”

Aiden Paul returns as the quarterback and also a player who contributed 100 tackles from his middle linebacker position in 2023.

Jarrett believes that Eagleton will lead the region, as the Maryville team returns every player but two from last year’s squad.

“We are going to have our hands full,” said Jarrett. “It’s a challenging schedule, but we are ready to take the next step.”