HENDERSON — Seven-on-seven scrimages won’t reveal terribly much about a football team as it relates to meaningful prognostication. But there’s something far more important Vance County’s new head football coach Aaron Elliott has already gained from the summer workouts that started two weeks ago.
Elliott, announced as the new coach June 1, learned quickly that he inherited a group that already possessed good chemistry.
“Since I’ve been coaching football, I’ve never had a group that is so tight and the energy is so high,” said Elliott, who spent more than a decade as a Louisburg High assistant. “And it looks just like a family of brothers.”
Some of that camaraderie was on display Tuesday morning in the Vipers’ scrimage against Elliott’s former outfit Louisburg.
Towards the end of the competition, Vance County made several positive plays, including some contested touchdown grabs, that inspired raucous and downright joyful responses from the participants and guys on the sideline alike.
“We come out and we wake up every morning because we have a passion for the game,” Elliott said. “We want to make it fun to keep it enticing but we keep it serious when it’s time to get serious.”
Some of the student-athletes are having so much fun they can’t sleep at night, according to Elliott, who picks up several of them for workouts each day on what he calls his “morning bus route.”
Vance County has had four head coaches in four years and Elliott, a former Southern Vance lineman, believes the Vipers must have been forced to learn some resilience along the way, although they have experienced success, going 7-3 last season with a state playoffs appearance.
“We just welcomed him into what we already had going on,” said senior quarterback Nazir Garrett.
“We really needed the energy this time,” senior receiver and defensive back Isreal Terry added. “People were kind of doubting us. We just had to turn it up.”
Those two standout players will factor in heavily to how the fall unfolds for Vance County, which will have a new-look run, pass, option offense with Elliott calling the shots. Vance County native Professor Campbell, who coached with Elliott at Louisburg, is the new defensive coordinator.
Asked for players that might be flying under the radar, Garrett and Terry identified seniors Sean Alston and Isman Alston. Not to be outdone, Taeshawn Alston, a 6-foot-3 sophomore receiver, made some plays Tuesday that showed he might also be worthy of keeping an eye on.
“The talent is amazing,” Elliott said. “I’m going to have a hard time trying to figure out how I can get them all on the field at one time.”