Sloss, Carroll making early strides

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Healthy numbers are an early good sign for a Cavalier football program under new leadership.

By Craig Worrell, Sports Editor

HILLSVILLE –– Carroll County hasn’t yet played its first football game of the 2014 season, but the Cavaliers have already chalked up a win.

The school had to order some extra football helmets. One might say that it’s a win and that the Cavaliers covered the spread, as some of those new pots were size XL.

Including a JV squad that, in terms relative to recent years, is downright massive with numbers in the mid-40s, it looks like the kids at Carroll County are giving the new guy a chance.

Eddie Sloss opened practice last Friday – his first as the head coach at CCHS – with around 70 guys in flat-finish light-gray headgear. He can’t really say why.

“All I know is, they’re out,” Sloss said.

Still employed at the time by Montgomery County Schools, the soon-to-be former Christiansburg defensive coordinator made a few trips to Hillsville toward the end of the last school year, meeting returning players and those interested in coming out. Another meeting brought a few more new faces.

“People just kept coming out as the summer progressed,” he said.

The biggest jump in numbers appears to have come in the freshman and sophomore classes, but Sloss was able to pick up some new young men of varsity age who he said will be influential members of the team.

“We’re really looking to the future as far as numbers are concerned,” he said.

Sloss has had his work cut out for him early in his tenure at Carroll, both on the athletic side of things and the academic.

“Summer was a breeze,” he said, “but right now I’m just trying to get acclimated to the school, get some questions answered as far as teaching.”

Sloss said he has a great mentor in Carroll girls’ basketball coach Marc Motley, who was friends with Sloss back in their college days.

On the football side, a lot of new faces dot the Cavalier coaching staff, and one of Sloss’ main concerns has been making sure everyone on the staff is headed in the same direction as far as what is being presented to the players, no easy task with so many newcomers, a few of them late additions.

“That’s one thing I’ve been most pleased about,” he said, “where the coaches are all on the same page.”

Despite reconsidering his original plan to run an offense based on the wing-T, Sloss said progress is about where he would like it at this point in the year.

“We might be a little ahead with the work we’ve gotten done in the offseason,” he said. “They’re familiar now with what we’re doing.”

Much of that can be credited with the relaxed offseason practice rules adopted recently by the Virginia High School league, something that must be invaluable to a program starting fresh under a new coach.

“That was priceless,” he said. “I’m not saying we are where other programs are that have been established, but it has been very, very helpful. The time that we had in the spring and the summer with the players, it allowed our coaches to mingle with the kids and get some experience, and get to know the players and the players to get to know them.”

After today (Friday) the Cavaliers have just four more days of workouts before their first scrimmage Friday. And a few more helmets than first expected will be coming back scarred with Tazewell green.