Football Preview: William Fleming Returning Four Starters

By David Grimes

With only four returning starters William Fleming will be lacking experience when it hits the gridiron this fall in a tough Western Valley District, which is in its last year of existence.

Starting in the 2013 season, the WVD will dissolve, and those teams will be playing in new districts and new divisions under a VHLS proposal.

Returning for the Colonels, who went 1-9 last season, will be seniors Derell Stone (linebacker, 6-2, 218 pounds), Nico Johnson (defensive back, 5-8, 160), Dah-Quon Ederington (linebacker, 6-1, 170) and Diamond Shorter (wide receiver/defensive back, 5-6, 145).

Offensively, speed is much improved from last year. The offensive line is much bigger and the team has more depth at the skills positions.

“We will need to get experience quick,” said third-year head coach Lee Johnson. “We only returner one starter and we need to improve our passing game.”

Defensively, the Colonels return four starters. “The secondary is our strength. All four of our starters are in the defensive backfield. In addition, our team speed is much better.”

As for areas of improvement on defense, Johnson noted, “We need to get better against the run. Plus, get some of our inexperienced players caught-up quick.”

William Fleming, who has not won a home game since their new stadium debuted in 2010, not counting a home win two years ago against Halifax County, which the Colonels had to forfeit later because of ineligible player, will have seven opportunities to do so this season. Franklin County, Amherst County, E.C. Glass, R.J. Reynolds (N.C.), Salem, George Washington and Halifax County will visit the recently all-too-friendly confines of William Fleming.

“Franklin County will be our top game of the season,” said Johnson.

The Colonels will also have road trips to Magna Vista, Franklin County and Patrick Henry.

“I think we have a chance to be very competitive in every game,” stated Johnson. “Our expectations for ourselves are high. We are very inexperienced and young, but we’ve had a great off-season and if we can get our younger players up to speed early in scrimmages, we have a shot be very solid. I really like this group of young men. We’re going to be fine.”

William Fleming opens its season on Friday, Aug. 24, when they host Franklin County.