By SAM McGAW
The Nolensville Knights won’t compete in a varsity game this fall, but that won’t prevent them from preparing for their future.
With only freshmen and sophomores on the team, Nolensville will spend its inaugural season competing at the junior varsity level.
Former Ravenwood head coach Will Hester leads the first-year program.
He led RHS to a Class 6A state title last fall and a state runner-up finish in 2014. He amassed a 38-4 record in his three seasons with the Raptors.
While the school has changed for Hester, most of his staff and offensive and defensive schemes remain the same.
“We brought five coaches over from Ravenwood,” Hester said.
“It’s going to be a very similar looking offense and defense to what you’ve been used to seeing out of Ravenwood the past few years.”
If Nolensville’s offense can come close to the explosiveness Ravenwood possessed under Hester, it will be a nightmare for opposing defenses.
The Raptors averaged 36.73 points per game in Hester’s 42 contests at the helm.
Just like he did at Ravenwood, Hester will utilize the athleticism of his quarterback in his spread offense.
Battling to be his new signal-caller are sophomores Brandon Wharton and Colton Dooley.
“We’re going to use a lot of run-pass option stuff,” Hester said. “We have two very talented quarterbacks battling it out right now in Colton Dooley and Brandon Wharton. Both of those guys are doing great, great things for us.”
After inheriting several Ravenwood transfers, there’s a lot of familiarity for the Knights’ defense.
“We have a lot of 10th graders on the defensive side of the ball that played for us at Ravenwood as freshmen last year,” Hester said. “So, there’s not a whole lot of a learning curve. Those guys are stepping right in and towing the company line.”
Defensive coordinator Paul Derrick coached Ravenwood’s defense last fall. Under his direction, RHS allowed 13.53 points per game and forced 33 takeaways.
“The defense, as always with a Will Hester team, is going to be the strength of our team,” Hester said. “Coach Paul Derrick does a phenomenal job of coaching the defense.”
Hester said safety Jack McWilliams and defensive lineman Sam Chapman have emerged as leaders in the team’s 3-4 scheme.
Nolensville has nine games scheduled for 2016. Its first matchup is at Forrest on Aug. 22.
That following week, the Knights will get a feel for what it’s like to play under the lights on Friday nights.
With the approval of the TSSAA, their first home game of the season on Sept. 2 will be played against South Gibson’s varsity team.
“These guys are ready to compete,” Hester said. “It’s Williamson County football; there’s no place to run and hide. There’s going to be a lot of eyes on these young men and how they’re growing and how they’re moving forward. We’re excited to be a part of this.”
Following this season, Nolensville will likely be placed in either the 3A or 4A classification, depending on the school’s enrollment numbers.