Spotlight: Washington High School, 9/15/17
It's kind of hard to believe, but Washington hasn't had a winning record in 11 years.
Things may be changing in season four under Charlie Ward. The Wildcats are off to an encouraging start with talent, motivation, and changes that are making a difference.
Ward arrived at Washington in 2014 with much fanfare. Not too many high school coaches bring a Heisman Trophy, a national title and a 10-year NBA career, but hoopla is not what Ward is about.
The winds and losses have not been as shining. Seven wins in three seasons with just one last year caused introspection.
He brought the guys to team camp at Valdosta State over the summer, hired a new strength and conditioning coach, and started a morning workout program - among other changes.
Of course, there is talent, too.
As well as having one of the best names, Mystikal McGhee is one of the area's top athletes.
He has been a highlight machine as a receiver despite getting lots of attention from defenses.
Mystikal accounts for 54 percent of the team offense, 77 percent of the receiving yards, and Joe Slattery is doing a nice job getting him the ball.
He took over the starting quarterback spot late last season as a sophomore. Throwing for over 209 yards a game is nice but more impressive is some high praise from the coach.
With less than 40 guys on varsity, a lot is being asked of certain players. Probably no one more than Olajuwon Lewis. The senior defensive tackle is now also starting at center.
More discipline on defense is also proving a difference maker. They're giving up fewer big plays and 10 fewer points a game.
It's all added up to a promising 2 - 1 start, the one loss to area power Navarre, a game they led at the half, may be most encouraging of all.
But the Wildcats are well aware the book is very much still out.