When Russell Dove announced earlier this year that he would be leaving the West Bladen football sidelines to take the head-coaching job at South Columbus, there could almost be heard a collective gasp from those who are supporters of Knights football.
We were among those who gasped.
But West Bladen has chosen what we think is a worthy replacement to take over the reins of the varsity football team — Todd Pait, a Bladenboro native and brother to Knights varsity basketball coach Travis Pait.
The list of those interested in taking over for Dove was long and full of quality, but Pait rose to the top for many reasons. His service in the U.S. Army gives him credibility as someone who is accustomed to doing things by the book and with discipline; his experience as a defensive coordinator at a successful Tennessee high school, as well as his coaching past with the West Bladen jayvee, gives him plenty of know-how in running a football team; and his familiarity with the community and West Bladen family gave him a leg up on other candidates.
We will join with other Knights football supporters in applauding the choice of Pait as the next varsity head coach.
We also look forward to the 2016 season — West Bladen’s last one as a member of the Four County Conference, where they have been stuck in the middle of the pack over the past three season behind powers Clinton, Wallace-Rose Hill, East Bladen and Midway.
But the Knights have come a long way since their 0-11 season of four years ago under Joe Salas, thanks to the leadership of Dove and hard work of his staff.
So, in many ways, Pait has some good-sized shoes to fill — and it’s not only about the Ws. Dove created a unity, respect and morale around West Bladen football that had started to show positive results. We hope to see that continue.
Something else that will continue, according to Pait, is the West Bladen defensive scheme. The 4-4 set will remain, but Pait’s defensive mind will be tested since it’s probably been one of the team’s toughest areas to shore up.
But there will also be changes. Pait has already said he will trash the Wing-T offense of the past three years and implement the Pistol, which should bring a lot more excitement to Knights football — IF a quarterback in the mold of Zach Wilcox and playmaker like Malcolm Vaught can be found within West Bladen’s hallways.
Right now, the Knights’ weight room is getting all of the football focus, but it won’t be long before things get started in earnest. We are certainly looking forward to the next chapter — the Todd Pait era — of West Bladen football.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“It’s not the will to win, but the will to prepare to win that makes the difference.” (Bear Bryant)