For all the things that Stonewall Jackson High School first-year football coach Loren Johnson had to prepare for going into Monday’s initial practice, he knew one thing that took precedence over everything else: his wedding.
Johnson was married Aug. 2 in Connecticut, leaving him little time for a honeymoon and even less time to make sure everything was in order before practice officially began.
But not to worry. Johnson had everything in place. He got his parents meeting done in late July and then gave his players and coaches last week off.
“There was no way in the world we were going to change that wedding date,” Johnson said.
When Johnson proposed to his bride-to-be Kimberly last December, he had no idea he would be the Raiders’ new head football coach. It wasn’t until afterward that the opening came up at Stonewall Jackson.
Johnson, a former all-Big East Conference defensive back at Virginia Tech, met Kimberly while the two were getting their master’s degrees at the Blacksburg campus.
“We got a little time, but we called it a pre-honeymoon,” said Johnson, who was named Stonewall’s head coach in March. “We’ll do something more over the winter time.”
It’s been a busy offseason for Osbourn, but one that has reaped a number of benefits.
Last week, Steve Schultze, the Eagles second-year head football coach, had to replace one of his assistants, defensive backs coach Dan Augustine, who took a graduate assistant’s job at Southwest Missouri State.
Without too much time to find someone before the start of practice, Schultze and defensive coordinator Stan Greene drew up a possible list of candidates. One of the names was Marty Fischer, a player Schultze coached at Loudoun County High School.
An added bonus was that Fischer’s father is Pat Fischer, the former Washington Redskin defensive back, and someone that Greene knew.
A call was made and the two agreed to come aboard with Marty Fischer working as the full-time defensive backs coach and Pat Fischer, who played for the Redskins from 1968 to 1977, helping out on a part-time basis.
Also this summer, Schultze hooked up with Jason Sload, a former Penn State football player who ran speed workouts for Osbourn players and found time to make a one-day trip July 31 to Harnett Central High School outside Raleigh, N.C. to pick up a few pointers.
Schultze had met Harnett Central’s coach John Ward at a coaches clinic in the spring in Baltimore. Ward, a veteran coach, invited Schultze to come down anytime he wanted.
Schultze had wanted to learn more about the single-wing offense, which Harnett Central ran with success last season in Ward’s first year at the helm.
Compared to most single-wing offenses, Harnett Central makes more use of wideouts and slotbacks. The Trojans have players in those positions on nearly every down. The team rushed for more than 4,000 yards, with then junior tailback Mike Hill going over the 2,000 mark. Harnett Central went 6-6 and fell in the first round of North Carolina’s 3-A playoffs.
The only catch in going to North Carolina was that school had already started and practice didn’t begin until 6:30 p.m. That made for a long night, with Schultze and his coaching staff not getting home until early the next morning.
David Beachy, one of six Osbourn Park players to attend Virginia Tech’s summer camp, may not be ready for the Sept. 5 season opener after tearing his hip flexor. A year ago he was an all-Cedar Run District linebacker-tight end.
Beachy has impressed recruiters with his work ethic. With OP’s practice starting on Monday, coach Brian Beaty was not yet sure whether Beachy would be ready for the start of the season.
“I don’t know what the time frame is,” Beaty said. “We’re expecting to have him back pretty soon. He’s actually been working out a little bit, lifting and probably doing a little light jogging. We’ll wait to evaluate until we’ve had a few practices.”
Meanwhile, Yellow Jacket receiver Andrew Dykstra’s stock has risen after a summer in which he too went to Virginia Tech’s camp. Holy Cross and several other Division I-AA schools have inquired about Dykstra. Offensive lineman Zak Stair, with offers from Maryland, Syracuse and Virginia, remains the only OP player squarely on Division I-A lists.
Sports editor David Fawcett contributed to this report