Youth getting playing time has Bears optimistic | News, Sports, Jobs

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NEW MANCHESTER — The Oak Glen football team dealt with injuries throughout the season.

The Golden Bears put forth a strong effort throughout the season, however, Oak Glen was unable to overcome its multitude of injuries.

Oak Glen ended the season with a 49-14 loss to Roane County Friday night on the road. The loss dropped the Golden Bears to 2-8 on the season.

Anthony Burt scored a touchdown on a short run, and Devan Juszczak hauled in a long touchdown reception from Trent McCartney in the loss to the Raiders.

“The whole season was up and down,” first-year Oak Glen head coach Doug Taylor said. “You always have high hopes when you start off a season. Success is measured by wins and losses. We wanted to be on the other side of that.

“It takes a lot of different things to be successful. One of the things is your athletes. You hope to have your athletes match up with your schedule. You have to stay away from the injury bug. We just weren’t able to stay on the right side of those things. If we were on the right side, it would mean more wins.”

The Bears dealt with injuries pretty much from the start of the year.

Oak Glen began the season with 42 players, and the Golden Bears ended the season with 39.

“You look back on the year, and the good comes with the bad,” Taylor said. “The bad was we went 2-8. The good part was that a good amount of our younger players got a lot of experience at the varsity level.

“We are now on to offseason workouts. We hope that pays dividends for us down the road.”

Several freshmen saw significant time on the field this season for the Golden Bears.

“I would say at least five freshmen saw extensive playing time on both sides of the ball – offensively and defensively,” Taylor said.

There were nine seniors on the roster.

“We had nine seniors, and quite a few of those were lettermen,” Taylor said. “Most of those players sustained injuries and were not able to finish the season. They were very good football players, and they would have helped us if they are all able to stay healthy.

“We tried just playing them on one side of the ball to try and save them. We wanted to give them to heal up. We wanted to give them an extra week.

“They were warriors. They played their butts off. They played really hard. I know the other players and the coaching staff really appreciated them.”

The seniors were the leaders of the team.

“No doubt, the seniors were the leaders of the team,” Taylor said. “We are going to sorely miss them.

“It is out with the old and in with the new. We are going to have to rely on some of our middle aged players – our juniors and sophomores. They are going to have to step up.”

Some of the seniors were vocal leaders, while others led by example.

“I would say it was a combination of both,” Taylor said. “The kids had different personalities. Some were quiet. Some led by example. They led by the way they played on the field. Some were vocal leaders, and some were both.

“We needed that senior leadership. We are going to sorely miss those guys.

“I just wish things went better for them this season. Soccer is like a life lesson. Things don’t always work out as you planned. You have to pick up the pieces and move on.”

The Golden Bears may have to make some changes going into next season.

“We are going to look at the things we did well,” Taylor said. “We are going to look out what if anything we are going to need to change offensively or defensively.

“We are going to re-evaluate our players. We are going to look at the positions they are in. We may have to change some positions around. We want to put them in the best position for them to have success.

“I am not exempt from all this. I am critical of myself. I am going to look at the things I did. I am going to have to do some things better to get us ready next year.”

The team hopes to have a good influx of talent from the incoming freshmen class.

“That is another responsibility of mine,” Taylor said. “I have to make sure we get some good offseason workouts. I have to search the school for some athletes. I have to go down to the incoming freshmen and get them excited about playing football at Oak Glen. We want to get them off on the right foot.

“There are some kids who should have or could have played for us, but they had some things happen. They had some health issues. They are excited about playing next year. They will help us.

“When you move to a new school, your face is not known. My face is known. The kids are more comfortable with me.

“It’s tough to start over. Everyone is reluctant to talk to you. It is now easier for them to talk to me and for me to talk to them.

“The kids know me. They know I am about the players. They know the program is important to me.

“I have to make sure I get the guys into some good offseason workouts. That will be important for us to have success with the group we have.”

This was Taylor’s first year back as a head coach since he was the head coach at Madonna. Taylor was an assistant at Madonna last season under former head coach Dan Rovira.

“Every year is a new year,” Taylor said. “This year, I dealt with issues I forgot I had to deal with on the administration side.

“I am going to have to try and get our coaching positions full. We were short at least two coaches. I have to get those positions filled.

“Having those positions filled will make it easier for the whole time. I have reached out to some coaches who may be interested in coaching. I have to get those positions filled.”

The Oak Glen community welcomed Taylor with open arms this year.

“I appreciate the community for all the support they gave to the team and to me,” Taylor said. “I also got a lot of support from the administration. The support from the administration was great.”

With the season over, Taylor has turned his attention to supporting county rival Weir. Weir is the No. 14 seed in the West Virginia Class AA playoffs, and the Red Riders will take on No. 3 seed Roane County at 1:30 pm Saturday afternoon down in Spencer.

“Now that I am home and everything, I am going to cheer for our county rivals Weir,” Taylor said. “Weir made the playoffs, and I wish them the best of luck. I am going to be pulling for them.”

The Red Riders and the Raiders both defeated the Golden Bears this season. Weir defeated Oak Glen in Week 1, while Roane County came away with the win in Week 10.

“They are two different styles,” Taylor said. “Weir has a lot of athletes. They are finesse. They have some good size.

“Roane County has a little bit of speed, but they play power football. They run the ball right at you. They don’t waste time. They get right after it with their cadence.

“Hopefully, Weir’s athletes are able to wear them down in the second half. They have a good coaching staff. I hope Coach (Frank) Sisinni and his team are able to pull out the victory and are able to move on in the playoffs.”

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