Although Carroll County’s football team has won just seven games over the past three seasons, new head coach Eddie Sloss appears determined to change the attitude and culture within the football program.
On the surface, there is not a lot of reason for optimism. Carroll County went just 2-8 last year and 0-7 in its first run through the River Ridge District. A schedule that features just four home games, and only one after Sept. 26, certainly doesn’t help matters. The month of October looks to be particularly wicked as Carroll County will hit the road for four consecutive games against River Ridge powers Hidden Valley, Cave Spring, Christiansburg and Salem. Sloss says bring it on.
“I don’t look at the big picture. I am just looking one game at a time. I don’t care what team you are, in the River Ridge, you have a tough schedule. Everybody is sitting in the same seat,” Sloss said. “The team we are worried about right now is Floyd County and we will focus on these other teams as we get to that point. Every game is a hard game. There are no easy games. We take every game like it is a big game. Games you are supposed to win, you need to make sure you do, and the games you are not favored to win, we are going to treat it like we are going to win. But in my eyes we are going to win every game.”
Football practice begins August 1 and Carroll County will have a Friday Night Lights intrasquad scrimmage a week later on Aug. 8. In what should make at least for an entertaining storyline, the Cavaliers will face former coach Tom Hale on Aug. 15 in a four-team scrimmage at Tazewell with Hale’s new Fort Chiswell squad, Tazewell and Central High School from Wise County. Carroll will host Galax in the annual benefit scrimmage on Aug. 22 before the real season begins a week later in Hillsville against Floyd County. While the outside world may not have high expectations for the Cavaliers, the incredibly upbeat Sloss refuses to think that way.
“Are we going to win every game? Honestly, I don’t know. I hope so. But we are going to prepare each week like we are. We going to put the best people at their positions and we are going to prepare like we are going to win. I expect to win every game,” Sloss said. “If you think any other way, you are doing yourself a disservice, you are doing your team a disservice, you are doing your school a disservice and you are doing your community a disservice. The second I feel any different, I am not going to coach. That’s just the way I feel. And these kids, they are working so hard. We had 53 kids there (July 15th) weightlifting, not including the eighth graders, lifting and learning, running, doing what we ask them to do. They are very coachable and I am very pleased. They are good kids working hard, and I can’t ask for anything better than that.”
Things have also finally come together for Sloss and the Cavaliers on the coaching front. Former coach Casey Burcham has rejoined the staff, while Mike Combs will also help. They join Seth Greer, Russell Smoot, Mark Harmon, Rick Nester, Mike Wells and Jeff Tobler. Kevin Miller, who coached with Sloss at Blacksburg in the past, will also help part-time with quarterbacks.
“Kevin is going to make that drive from Blacksburg a couple of days a week and every day of two-a-days to help with quarterbacks,” Sloss said. “I am very, very blessed. I couldn’t be more pleased with the guys I have on staff here.”
Carroll County 2014 Football Schedule
Aug. 29 Floyd County
Sept. 5 at Mount Airy
Sept. 12 Blacksburg
Sept. 26 Pulaski
Oct. 3 at Hidden Valley
Oct. 10 at Cave Spring
Oct. 17 at Christiansburg
Oct. 24 at Salem
Oct. 31 Patrick Henry-Roanoke
Nov. 7 at Patrick County