For the Western Albemarle High School varsity football team, the fall 2016 season was about team-building and gaining experience. While taken at face value the team’s record of four wins and seven losses may appear disappointing, according to head coach Ed Redmond, that’s a glass-half-empty way of looking at it. “We were a really young team this year,” he said. “We lost a lot of talent last year and had many players playing at the varsity level for the first time… Above all, this season was about learning and getting better.”
Considering the youthfulness of his roster, while Redmond came into the season hoping for the best, he knew his efforts would have to focus on working with his players to develop their individual skills and establish the kind of team dynamic that might lead to a powerhouse showing next year. “We knew we were young and that we were going to have to spend a lot of time focusing on learning how to play together as a team,” said Redmond. “We had to feel out who worked where and who would fill what roles. So there was a big learning curve. But in the end we worked tremendously hard and, with 15 starters returning next year, we basically looked at this season as a kind of dress rehearsal for next fall.”
Understanding that a year of rebuilding—sometimes known as an ‘off’ season—can be trying, both coaches and team leaned heavily on the leadership of defensive end and captain, Noah Crutchfield. According to Redmond, the senior served as a kind of psychic anchor for the squad. “He was a real rock for us,” said Redmond. “He had a great team-attitude and stayed upbeat and positive no matter what. I can’t say enough about Noah’s abilities as a leader.” Finishing the season with 36 tackles—15 of them for a loss—and seven sacks, Crutchfield’s defensive prowess earned him offers from West Virginia Wesleyan College and Delaware State University to play at the collegiate level.
On offense, the trio of quarterback Derek Domecq, receiver Jack Weyher and running back Darren Klein led the team, giving WAHS fans much to be excited about moving into next year. On the season, Domecq completed 112 of 216 passes—that’s a 51.9 percent completion rate—for a total of 1,707 yards and 17 touchdowns. On the ground, the QB chalked up another 979 yards, averaging 5.5 yards per carry and nearly 90 yards per game. “Derek is a really hard working and highly competitive player,” said Redmond. “We have big expectations for him moving forward, and we’re excited to be a part of his development.”
Defensively, Redmond named outside guard and linebacker Jarrett Smith, as well as linebacker James Buetow as standout players.
Concerning the future, Redmond has this to say: “We’re looking to have a big year next year. This past fall, we benefited from great senior leadership, learned a lot, and experienced a huge amount of growth. We plan on putting all that to work for us next season. We’re looking to work hard in the offseason and hopefully come into the year prepared to excel.”