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W&L will count on defensive veterans

Linemen, quickness are keys for Eagles’ squad

Washington & Lee’s new varsity football coach, Todd Jones, is known as an offensive mastermind for his speedy, fast-paced offense.  
Yet, W&L’s prospects for a successful 2014 season may well depend on a stout Eagles’ defense coached by veteran defensive coordinator Edgar Carey.

Carey, a W&L graduate who has been coaching the Eagles for 13 years, is confident his defensive troops will deliver.  

“We’ve got a veteran bunch this year,” he said. “They are aggressive and quick to the ball.”

Jones wants his defenders to fly to the ball and he likes what Carey is doing with the defense.
“He’s got a lot of energy,” Jones said.  “The kids feed off of him.”

“Coach Carey has nine seniors on defense. We want them to lead, we want them to set an example for the other kids,” Jones said. “This is the last time they will put on the Eagles uniform. They need to hunt, hustle and hit.”

Carey and his charges believe they can deliver for Jones and for W&L.

“The players are excited,” he said.  “They have a lot of enthusiasm and they work hard.”

Carey said the defense will be led by bookend defensive ends Gabe Loesel and Markeyse Thompson.

Loesel is  210 pounds and Thompson is 230 pounds. Both are seniors and both were all-conference last season for a team that went to the third round of the state playoffs. Loesel also was an all-conference guard on offense last year,

Joining them on what should be an imposing defensive front will be Kenneth Ashdown, who played well as a sophomore, but was injured and missed his junior season.

“I love to be around these kids,” Carey said. Carey is a longtime fixture at W&L.  He was the defensive coordinator of the 2013 playoff team.  Carey and his wife, Merita, who works at Washington District Elementary School, have two grown children, a daughter, Star and a son, Damian.  Damian was an all-state defensive tackle at W&L.

Jones and Carey have kept the Eagles busy in the weight room the past two months, and the players are buying into what Jones has been selling — an opportunity to have a very good season if they work hard.   

Hopes for the Eagles this season went through the roof when W&L decided in July to hire Jones, a legendary Northern Neck District coach. Jones built the Essex Trojans into a powerhouse during his 14 years of coaching there, including a 2009 state championship and 10 Northern Neck District championships.

Jones’ state championship team went 14-0 and defeated Radford 30-0 to win the state title.  He was voted Virginia High School Coach of the Year in 20009 and he has coached in the state East-West all-star game twice.

Whether he can produce the same winning formula at W&L remains to be seen, but there are plenty of people in Westmoreland County who are rooting for him and for the Eagles.  

“These kids have an opportunity, defense and offense, but I want to see unity and I want the desire to go out and hustle on every play,” Jones said.

Richard Leggitt

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