CHARLES TOWN – New Washington head football coach Daryl Hayes has a wealth of knowledge in the sport.
Now the goal will be channeling that know-how and fashioning it into victories on the field for a Patriots’ program largely on the rebuild.
Hayes, a former high school head coach in Maryland and Virginia as well as an assistant at nearby Shepherd University, has been in the position a little more than a week after the board of education approved his hiring June 16 in the wake of former coach Mark Hash’s resignation this spring.
The Patriots, who finished 7-4 last year and reached the postseason for the first time in school history, entered their second week of summer practice on Monday and will face outside opposition Saturday during a 7-on-7 team competition at cross county rival Jefferson.
Washington opens its season Aug. 29 at Hedgesville.
Hayes said he is excited about the opportunity to return to the high school coaching ranks, but acknowledged Washington faces an uphill battle after losing 21 seniors, including first-team all-state receiver Kendell Smith and second-team all-state running back Colin Gustines.
“We got a late start,” Hayes said. “We’ve had about 30 kids out. Maybe a few more. Not the numbers we want obviously, but certainly serviceable numbers so far.”
“We’re working hard,” Hayes continued. “We have kids who are eager, but they haven’t seen the field too much.”
Last fall, a senior-laden Washington team rode Smith and Gustines, among others, to its best season since the school opened in 2008, and for the only head coach the program had ever known. Smith and Gustines are now headed to Shepherd, where Hayes served his seventh season as an assistant coach last year with a Rams’ program that reached the NCAA Division II quarterfinals before losing its first game of 2013.
Hayes, who has worked as a special education teacher for seven years at Jefferson High School, had stints as a head football coach at St. James in Maryland and also Blue Ridge School near Charlottesville, Va. The Martinsburg resident and father of two also served as an assistant coach in the 1990s at both Hedgesville and South Hagerstown high schools.
At Shepherd, Hayes coached several positions including offensive and defensive lines, as well as tight ends and fullbacks.
Hayes will begin his new job as a special education teacher at Washington when school resumes in August.
“Daryl has a wealth of experience,” said Shepherd head coach Monte Cater. “He’s been at a lot of different schools. He’s had a chance to learn both being an assistant as well as being a head coach. He’s going to take over a program that there’s kind of been a sudden change, but there’s every indication that he’ll do a good job whether it comes right away or later.”
“I know they’re losing some good players because we’re going to get a couple,” Cater continued. “But in terms of having been through it, whether it be at the high school or college level, Daryl knows football. He’s going to do everything he can to get them going and make sure that they continue to have some success.”
Washington athletic director Mark Murphy said Hayes was selected from a group of 10 applicants.
“He had a great positive attitude through his interview,” Murphy said. “He came in well prepared. He had researched our program, what we’ve done, what we have coming back, what other schools have coming back. Where we kind of fit with the landscape of football in the Panhandle.”
“He had a good vision on where the program should head in the future and we were in agreement with him on that,” Murphy continued. “Overall, he brought the best package out of the group that we talked to.”
Hayes said Monday that he is in the early stages of evaluating his team’s talent. He said he is still familiarizing himself with the Washington players, but added that some of them have also been spending a portion of their three weeks of summer conditioning with other team sports, which may cause the process to take longer.
Hayes said his staff of assistant coaches has not yet been finalized.
Among the leading returnees for Washington is senior linebacker and return specialist R.J. Wilson and senior wide receiver and linebacker Kyle Athey.
Wilson had 73 tackles last season and scored two touchdowns, while Athey caught six passes for 99 yards and a score.
Hayes said the offensive and defensive strategies he will employ this fall would depend largely on the individual talents of his skill position players. He said the playbook is “wide open at this point.”
“We’re going to have to have more of a team ethos,” Hayes said. “I think we’re going to have the kids understand that there is no Kendell and Colin and 21 seniors to rely on. That we need everyone to chip in and play a different brand of football. No better, no worse. Just different.”
“Coach Hash played the hand he was dealt and did a great job,” Hayes continued. “We’re going to have to play the hand that we’re dealt and hopefully do a good job. I don’t want to predict wins and losses in June. But I think if we can come out and work hard and stay injury-free, I think we’ll put a viable product on the field.”