Smith

Orange High School head coach Van Smith addresses his team at practice Monday.

When speaking to Van Smith and Marty Scotten about the Orange High School football team’s upcoming season, there was a common theme in the responses from the two coaches—that is, the Panthers will employ the physical style of a power running attack.

With Scotten joining forces with Smith after 23 years and over 100 victories as a head coach at Jordan Matthews High School, Smith wants to see his team move back to a stronger running attack, which is why Scotten was the perfect hire.

“He’s a running football coach, and that kind of fits who we are and what we like to do,” Smith said.

In order to utilize a power running attack, the team will need the proper personnel, starting at the running back position. Although still fresh to the program, Scotten has liked what he’s seen so far from his backs. He’s been even more impressed with his offensive linemen, the players who will be paving the way for an efficient rushing offense.

“I think they’re going to be a strength for us,” Scotten said. “That remains to be seen, but I do think that they’ve picked up on what we’ve done well so far. That’s a good sign and they look like the type of kids that are going to get it done.”

Another strength on the offensive side of the ball will be the returning starting quarterback Wyatt Jones. The 6-foot-3 senior threw for 7 touchdowns and 1,145 yards as a junior and looks to build on those numbers this season. Jones’ play and his attitude have pleased both his new offensive coordinator and his head coach.

“He’s a good quarterback, good guy, good leader,” Smith said.

With just 11 players graduating from last year’s roster, there will be plenty of familiar faces to go along with Jones. Orange will also have the senior leadership of middle linebacker Owen Brimmer and wide receivers Cameron White and Joseph Kiger.

Smith is also optimistic about some of his younger players moving up from the JV team, especially rising junior Elliott Woods.

“Elliott is going to be a really, really good one at outside linebacker and running back/receiver,” Smith said.

In addition to Woods, rising sophomore Jared Weaver has a chance to contend on the varsity level after a strong year as a freshman for the JV team. 

Weaver and the rest of the roster will get a chance to compete in a 7-on-7 scrimmage against Hugh M. Cummings High School Wednesday. Smith said he hopes to see the offense “start developing chemistry” between the quarterback, running backs and wide receivers in the scrimmage. Defensively, he wants his team to “make sure we’re in the right positions.”

As far as the physical brand of football that Smith and Scotten hope to play in the upcoming season, that could take longer to develop and is far from a finished product. But Scotten is confident his offense will get there by the end of the season.

“I think you’ll see a great improvement from the beginning of the year to the middle of the year and then hopefully on from that,” Scotten said.