LEXINGTON, Va. (WFXR) — Washington and Lee is getting set for the return of football after the program was sidelined last year by the coronavirus pandemic. But the Generals are facing challenges in coming back after a year away from the field.
“We are all super hungry. This past year has been tough on everybody,” senior running back Josh Breece said.
Breece could’ve called it a career when Washington and Lee chose to opt out of playing football altogether in the spring. But the Lorton, Va.-native had no problem coming back as a super senior.
“I love football too much not to. Opportunity was taken away, I had to make sure I came back to do it,” Breece said. “What matters right now on the field is that we play football. And we’re definitely taking the opportunity to do that and we’re giving it everything we got.”
But returning to the field has been challenging and at times frustrating. With the underclassmen lacking college experience, the Generals are adjusting their expectations.
“I think our team is not taking anything for granted right now considering the journey we’ve been on but it’s just getting ourselves used to practicing the normal way that we do it,” head coach Garrett LeRose said.
One change LeRose made was installing additional team captains. The Generals have a total of seven for an expanded roster that includes players who were granted an extra year of eligibility due to the pandemic.
“We thought it would be a better idea because having more captains helps with having two basically new classes,” senior safety Dean Johnson said. “So I think that way, leading by example is a big thing for the older guys for sure.”
Despite its absence in the spring, Washington and Lee was picked to finish fourth in the ODAC preseason poll. But before conference play begins, the Generals are being realistic about what to expect when they open the season at Christopher Newport on September 4.
“We’re not talking a ton about a win in week 1. We’re just talking about making sure we’re doing the right things, meeting our expectations: alignment, assignment and execution,” LeRose said. “When you haven’t played as long as we have, you gotta focus on the little things and let those bigger things come to you.”
If anything, expect excitement when the Generals make their long awaited return on gameday.
“I know it’s going to be an outpour of emotion,” Breece said. “Before the last scrimmage — I’m not even going to lie to you — I was tearing up beforehand because I know that I got a chance to play football again.”