After being hired on the heels of a one-win season last year, Head Coach Dane Damron is prepared to be the fourth UVa-Wise football coach.
With the help of 10 assistant coaches, Damron will attempt to turn around a program that has won only five games in the past three seasons.
The Cavs will rely on a strong defense this season, led by the impactful Zachary Blair. The Cavalier linebacker was an Honorable Mention All-American in 2015 as he led the nation in tackles for loss with 28.5.
Joining Blair on defense will be Honorable Mention All-MEC honorees Andre Hamilton and Ben Funny. Hamilton, a junior out of Stafford, Virginia will be a mainstay in the Cavalier secondary. Anchoring the defensive line at nose tackle, Funny will try to build off of his sophomore season.
UVa-Wise will have several returning players and a few fresh faces on the offensive end. The battle for starting quarterback appears to be between senior Jeremy Eubank and Eastern Kentucky University transfer Brycen Lee. The wide receiving core will have to deal with the loss of all-region receiver Terrence Younger who graduated last May. Juniors Cedrick Watson and Jacob Cousins will be looked upon to fill the void left by Younger.
The Cavs’ quarterback situation is an interesting one with the return of senior Eubank and transfer Lee. Eubank is a proven passer, despite having only six touchdowns in eight games last season. EKU transfer Lee completed 67 percent of his passes during his senior year of high school.
Another position group to watch for is the offensive line. Returning players include Will White at left guard and Connor Patton at right tackle. Freshman Truvell Wilson will handle the responsibilities of left tackle.
Carlton Griffith and Javonte Latney headline a speedy and powerful running back squad with several other returning players backing them up. Three newcomers at the running back position for the Cavs are Devontae Jordan, J.B. Wright and Demarcus Ramsey.
When asked about what excited him the most, Coach Damron said, “They are eager to learn. I think they are excited and they are wanting to get better.”
Damron was also asked what he thought the key was for the Cavs to have a winning season in 2016. He said, “The key to having a winning season is to be the best version of UVa-Wise we can be every day.”
“I think our best can be pretty good, but I think our worst can be really bad and there is not much room for error in there. I do not think it is ever going to be about the team we are playing, I think we are playing the man in the mirror every day,” Damron added.
The Cavs kicked off their season by picking up a 13-10 victory in two overtimes on the road at Tusculum College. Wise’s first home game will be September 10 against Notre Dame College.