Fayetteville High School’s football team has seen its share of struggles in the three seasons since the Wolves won a region title in Class 2A in 2015.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is Wolves head coach John Limbaugh said he saw plenty of positives coming out of Fayetteville’s nine spring practices and its recent “Black and Gold” intrasquad scrimmage.
“It was very close,” he said. “I’m actually very excited about the upcoming season. The kids played really hard. They hit hard and they played hard.”
Limbaugh said he had enough players to field an offense and defense for both squads, and no players had to play on both teams during the scrimmage.
“We split it up evenly,” he said. “It was really a well-matched game.”
The Wolves will have Blake Machen returning at quarterback this season. Limbaugh said he was happy with what he saw at the position in spring.
“We’ve got a couple of quarterbacks,” Limbaugh said. “Hunter Hill is looking good there as well as Pacey DeLoach. Right now, the nod’s going to Blake, but you never know about fall practice.
“They all look good. Every one of them has got different things that they do well, and I’m excited about it.”
Limbaugh said he doesn’t have a bona fide starter inked in at any one position going into the summer.
“Somebody’s liable to take somebody’s place any given week,” he said. “It’s a deal where we’re going to put the best 22 on the field that’s playing the best at practice that week, and that’s how we’re going to do it.”
He added the spring helped identify positions of strength and areas where the team needs to see improvement.
“We’ve got to continue to work with our offensive line and getting off the ball,” Limbaugh said. “I’m really pleased with our receiver group and our running back group. They were doing a great job for us.
“We’ve just got to work on ourselves and work on our fundamentals … We missed some tackles we should’ve had and missed some blocks we should have made, but you’re going to get that in the spring.
“You’ve only got 10 days to work with nine practices and a game. As far as the 10 days go, I thought we came out looking really good. We’re in great position for the start of fall practice.”
The Wolves won’t have to replace much from 2018 because graduation losses numbered just four.
Another area of continuity for Fayetteville will be its kicking game, where rising sophomore Levi Phillips will contribute this season.
“It’s awesome,” Limbaugh said. “We’ll have him for a couple more years … I look for Levi to be at the next level, but you’ll see. Levi will win us a ballgame or two this year with his leg. It’s very exciting having him coming back.”
Limbaugh said Wolves fans who are excited about football should come out for Fayetteville’s season opener against Woodland at Farmlinks Field on Aug. 23 at 7 p.m.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” he said. “I just appreciate our fans very much.”