By Luke Wiggs, Panhandle News Network Sports

Martinsburg, W.Va- The lone coaching change in the EPAC puts Terry Rea in charge of a Washington program that has had 11 of its 15 seasons end with a losing record.


While Washington has tasted playoff success in the past under head coaches Glen Simpson and Mark Hash, the prospect of building a winning culture in one of the state’s top football conferences is going to be a tough one. But Rae feels he is equal to the task.


Rea, who came over from Berkeley Springs, inherited a tribe team that was just 5-22 over its previous 3 seasons, and led them to a 6 win season his first year at the helm.


“There’s a little bit of deja vu,” Rea said about walking into a new program. “But my coaching staff knows what we’re trying to do so it isn’t starting from zero.”


With over 60 players showing up to play for the Patriots, Washington is one of the state’s biggest wildcards especially because of their youth.


“We’re probably about 65% underclassmen,” Rae said. “I only have 9 seniors.”


The biggest question hurled Rea’s way from parents and media alike is how the Pats will play stylistically on offense. Washington has been a single wing “ground and pound” offense for many seasons which is a juxtaposition to the up-tempo spread offense Rea instituted at Berkeley Springs.


“Offensively we are still going to run the ball,” Rea said. “We have two young quarterbacks. We’re still learning our spread concepts, we’ve got a solid offensive line and this school has run the ball well over the last few years, we just aren’t going to do it in a phone booth.” 


Those two young signal callers, sophomore Ryan Weant and freshman Braylon Holmes, are carrying their competition for QB #1 deep into camp with both making major claims to win the job.


“Ryan is extremely smart and knows the whole offense, both of them have really strong arms.” Rea said. “Braylon is shifty, but they’re both similar in style and both put in work.” 


“We’ve got a really solid offensive line returning.” Rea said. “Jon Brewster is returning, Osofa-Mensah is returning, Stephen Naputi took a lot of reps last season and is probably going to be our starting center. Tucker Sine will start for us as well and we may see some freshmen play.”


“Kojo (Osofa-Mensah) can be a freak, once he gets going every play, watch out.” Rea said about his two returners who he expects to be big both literally and figuratively. “JonJon (Brewster) is really solid, you can tell he’s been a multi-year starter here.”


The Patriots are no stranger to running the ball carrying 357 times last season to just 17 completed passes.


 “Running back wise we’ve got a stable.” Rea said. “We’re looking for Tavon Jones and Isaiah Delauder to carry most of it but we have some good spell guys.”


“They’re kind of thunder and lightning, Isaiah is more thunder to Tavon’s lightning.” Rea said. “Delauder is more of that brute style of runner while still shifty, Tavon has that track speed.” 


Receiver will be uncharted waters for the Patriots who responded with silence when coach Rea first asked who had experience at that position.


“Wide receiver is also a youthful group,” said Rea. “My son is probably going to be our “H” Javon Jones (Tavon’s brother) is going to be our “X”, we’ll have Brock Meadows as well. Camden Pritt and Traven McCoard will do some things as well, we’ve got a good number of youthful receivers.”


Meadows may prove to be a hidden gem for Washington. At 6’3 and 225 pounds he is the perfect size for a natural tight end.


“It’s nice to have a true sized tight end,” Rea said. “He can battle with the linebackers and get us mismatches.”


Defensively, Rea plans on limiting his number of two-way players but still wants to keep his top talents on the field as much as possible.


“We’re going to be multiple with our fronts.” Rea said. “We’re expecting Brock and Kojo to set the edges for us. Brewster will be on the interior and we’re still looking for our nose guard.”


Jefferson transfer Isaiah Delauder may be an early favorite to lead the team in both carries and tackles.


“Delauder should be my middle linebacker, Garret Fauble will work in as well,” Rea said. “Landon Zimmerman knows the whole defense and will also play inside.”


“Grant Clark and Camden Pritt will both play at safety,” Rea said. “Cam Togans has solidified himself at free safety.”


Togans saw significant playing time for Washington last season as a freshman.


“Dom Dignazio will be one of our cornerbacks along with Javon.” Rea said, “My son and Braylon Mumaw are making it a tough competition though.”


The schedule has fallen well to the Patriots whose first 4 opponents finished a combined 19-25 last season (the best being AA Frankfort at 11-2), before EPAC play which has been the Achilles heel for Washington in the past. The Patriots are just 8-39 against conference opponents over the last 10 years.