Wilson, Breeden making head coach debuts in Wood-Warren matchup

A couple of first-time football head coaches will try to start things off on a winning note in their new roles when Warren County visits James Wood at 7 p.m. on Friday night at Feltner Stadium.
Todd Wilson (James Wood) and Josh Breeden (Warren County) were both assistants last year with their respective schools, and the results were significantly different.
The Colonels struggled to a 2-8 mark in 2022 — James Wood’s fewest number of wins in a full season since 2017. Warren County went 7-6 to record its most victories since that same season. The Wildcats advanced to the Region 3B championship game last year.
The Wildcats ran the single-wing last year, but they’re running a spread offense under Breeden. Senior PJ Dellinger is taking over at quarterback after missing his junior year due to an injury. Previously a running back, Dellinger led the Wildcats in rushing as a sophomore.
“He moves well,” Wilson said. “If it’s a zone read, he can pull it and take off with it. He’s very athletic. He’s not afraid to throw the ball down the field. They had some big pass plays to their slot receiver down the seam in a scrimmage [against Broadway] and scored a touchdown on one of them. We have to eliminate or at least limit their explosive plays.”
Warren County features a pair of returning running backs who combined for more than 2,000 yards last year in 5-foot-9, 160-pound junior Gavin Dodson (1,177 yards and eight TDs) and Blaise Skube (874 yards and 10 TDs).
“[Dodson] is not the biggest of backs, but he plays really big and he runs really hard for his size,” Wilson said. “He obviously has some very good lower-body strength. He keeps his feet moving. You have to tackle and wrap up to bring him to the ground.”
James Wood’s defense is led by senior middle linebacker Zach Smith, who led the area with 139 tackles (29 for a loss) last season.
The Wildcats are running a 3-3 stack defense this year, which James Wood has played against in both of its scrimmages. Wilson said he was particularly impressed by 6-foot-3, 220-pound senior linebacker Dagan Wayland in a scrimmage.
“They run to the ball on defense,” Wilson said. “They pursue the ball and are very aggressive. They play downhill. They bring a lot of pressure defensively. [Wayland] covers a lot of ground.”
The Colonels will attack the Wildcats behind senior running back Elijah Richards, who recorded 629 yards on 123 carries (a 5.4 average) and six touchdowns last season. James Wood will start one of two freshmen, Owen Neal or Aidric Yurish, at quarterback.
James Wood is an inexperienced team, so Wilson said remembering the fundamentals will be important on Friday.
“The scouting reports say a lot of stuff, but if we don’t line up correctly and execute our assignments correctly, they can run whatever they want to run,” Wilson said. “A lot of times it falls on us being in the right position defensively. Offensively, we just need to know who we need to block and sustain blocks, and try to have more explosive plays than they can have.”
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