New Coach, New Beginnings

The football program is gearing up for a new season


Ashtyn Barnes

Players practice and condition for the upcoming season. Before players could enter the complex they had their temperatures taken and did a health check to insure the safety of both coaches and players.

Ashtyn Barnes, Journalist

Coach Cook may be new to Western Branch, but he is not new to football. The Western Branch High School football team isn’t just adapting to a brand new coaching style, but also to new safety regulations and a new game calendar brought on by the VHSL as a result of COVID.

Coach Rashad Cook said, “Well, I think honestly it starts with the coach, changing the coaches to a winning mindset, a winning practice first. And then watching films, studying this game, and then eventually winning was the start of changing that record.”

Cook isn’t new to the school either, he is a former star running back. When he was in high school, he helped lead the Bruins to win the district title and participated in one of Virginia state’s best running back combinations in 1997. 

“He’s a good coach, he’s shown us a lot of new stuff that we haven’t been shown before,” Masi Bruning, 11, said.

Coach Cook has taught the team a plethora of new drills and ways of teaching the future team in order to help try and improve statistics from the team’s previous seasons. 

“Having a competitive practice or conditioning phase or whatever we’re doing day to day making sure it’s related to the sport of football as well as making sure that our kids are learning more than just playing a game,” Cook said.

This has given many members a new sense of appreciation of the sport and helped them to improve and grow as athletes both mentally and physically.

“We’ve implemented a ten-foot rule with the added expectation of wearing a mask during non-competitive drills,” Cook said.

While the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) states that people should be 6 feet apart, Coach Cooke and the other coaches for the football team take the extra precaution and try to have potential players be a minimum of 10 feet apart.

 “You know just trying to raise awareness about how serious this pandemic is,” said Cook.

There has also been a wide concern among the student body as to whether or not there will be a football season. If so, will there be an audience to cheer the Bruins on to victory? And how long will the season be?

“I’m not sure what they’re doing in regards to the fan-base, we would love to have Western Branch stadium rocking full of 8000 plus, but at the same time I’m sure there’s going to be a plan in place and a strategy in place that makes sure the safety of the community including our athletes is in but best interest,” said Cook.

With the hope of getting to at least 50% of the audience that normally attends, the football season is estimated to start toward the end of February and run until sometime in March.

“So far we know that we have 6 games instead of 10,” Jojo Frole, 12, said.

In addition to the six games that are scheduled, the team has the possibility to make the district playoffs. Getting into the playoffs isn’t based on the team’s record, but their power rankings. If the team were to not make it into the playoffs, the Bruins have agreed to a friendly game with the rival, Churchland High School, football team.

“With a plus one game, that plus one just means you get one more extra game to complete your season if you do not get to go to the playoffs,” said Cook.

The Bruins hope to improve their skills and statistics as a team over the course of the next few months with the upcoming season rapidly approaching.

Cook said, “It’s always about the safety of our athletes and the coaching staff.”