052517 WHS football: Coach goes by the book – and by the pound
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WHS football: Coach goes by the book – and by the pound

By Roger Greene
Coastal Observer

Waccamaw High football coach Shane Fidler’s creativity and innovation are making an impression on his players. Waccamaw marks Fidler’s first head coaching stop since being hired to lead the program in February. His conviction and imagination have been contagious.

Even though contact has been limited over the last few weeks during spring practice, Fidler’s blueprint for the program is beginning to emerge. Practice sessions are scripted and timed. Drills are structured and ordered to simulate transitions that will be seen on game night. And concepts such as commitment, trust, excitement and effort are emphasized.

“Coach Fidler is energetic and enthusiastic,” said junior tight end/linebacker Hunter Lane. “We can sense his energy and it’s rubbing off on us as a group.”

“The energy coach Fidler is bringing to the table is great,” said sophomore wide receiver/defensive back James Alston. “He’s very organized and it keeps things [moving] for us. We’re getting a lot done.”

One of Fidler’s innovations will be on display this evening during the “Warrior Showcase.” Eschewing the traditional spring game format, the event will be structured more like a competitive combine. Players will face off in strength events such as bench press and squat, challenge themselves during agility tests like the shuttle drill and gauge their speed with the 40-yard dash.

“We did something very similar while I was coaching at Colleton County,” said Fidler, who served as the Cougars’ offensive coordinator before coming to Waccamaw. “Unless you’re a college team, or a big high school team, the numbers aren’t always there to have an [effective] spring game.

“We want it to be as exciting and fun as possible for our players and their families. We’ll cook out afterward and do some other things. It’s more like a party, a reward for all the work the players have been putting in.

“But at the same time it gives them some measurables. A baseline they can take into the offseason and see where they need to improve. And the expectation is they’ll be better by the time fall practice comes around.”

Warrior players are eager to demonstrate their capabilities.

“No question everyone wants to knock the showcase out of the park,” said sophomore quarterback Brandon Stecz. “Nobody wants to be last and incentives are up for grabs for players and their leadership groups. It will be interesting to see what we’ve got.”

“We’re excited to show off a little bit,” Lane said. “We love coach Fidler’s approach. There’s a lot of excitement.”

Fidler’s offenses at Colleton County were known for their ability to produce yards and points, with several school records being established during his time in Walterboro. The schemes and systems that will be implemented at WHS have yet to be fully developed, but they will be guided by an age-old gridiron philosophy.

“We want to run the ball and be able to stop the run,” Fidler said. “There’s so much evaluating yet to be done, we’re still looking at who and what we have. We have to find our 11 best players [on each side of the ball] and put them in the positions where they can have the most success.

“Everyone is getting a chance. Our message to the players was that what has happened in previous years doesn’t matter. [Spring] has been the time for them to show us what they can do.”

Making the jump to Class AAA last year, Waccamaw finished 1-9, a step back for a team that had begun to make strides in terms of being more competitive while in Class AA. Fidler and Warrior players have stressed the positives they have seen over the last few months and are hopeful the gains can carry over into the offseason.

“We’ve got a lot done in a short period of time,” Alston said. “I feel like that will make us more productive going into the summer.”

“The momentum is amazing,” Stecz said. “Everything seems to have gone by so fast. We are working hard and are starting to gain an identity as a family.”

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