Wewahitchka Gators football coach Adam Edwards [ WMBB ]

Gators banking on senior leadership

With the loss of a prized member of the backfield lost to graduation, Wewahitchka Gators football coach Adam Edwards is staking a lot on the upcoming season to five seasoned seniors.

With the loss of versatile offensive threat Zay McDaniel, who amassed 1,200 yards as a running back and quarterback working out of a single wing formation, Edwards is looking to these seniors to anchor a revamped offense.

“We don’t have just one boy dog star,” said Edwards. “We have multiple guys I’m trying to get the ball to. I hope it’s a strength that we have multiple guys I want to touch the ball. They all have to carry the load.”

The seniors include quarterback Cole Williams; running back Tyren Williams, who also plays linebacker and safety; running back Damian Hughes, who also plays linebacker; running back Anton McNeeley, also a linebacker; and running back Corbin Highsmith, who also plays safety. 

Both Highsmith and McNeeley are coming off tears to their ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) and Edwards said both have been cleared and are ready to play.

“We’re installing a completely new offense,” he said. “Last year was the single wing, and we’re trying to go from a wing T to multiple different sets. Cole (Williams) runs well, with a wing T offense, it fits his skill set.”

In addition to McDaniel, the team “lost two of our better offensive and defensive linemen. 

Our defensive line is younger, but I feel really good where we are now. The center and two guards are the strength of our offense.”

In addition to his seniors, Edwards is pleased to see junior Bailey Cox, last year’s leading tackler and leader in interceptions, returning as wide receiver and safety.

Edwards last year was an assistant coach and defensive coordinator to Bobby Johns, and now embarks on his first year as head coach.

Backing him up will be assistant head coach and offensive coordinator Chaz Johns, working closely with the offensive and defensive lines] Cameron Lister, the varsity tight end coach, and coach of the junior varsity and middle school teams; Jarkevis Bess, coaching running backs and linebackers; Gabe McClellan, coach with the wide receivers; and Jarret Browning, coaching the offensive and defensive lines.

“I’m currently in the market for a defensive coordinator,” Edwards said. “I’ve had a few people put in for it (but I’ll do it) if I can’t find someone I really trust.”

Bess and McClellan both played for Edwards when he was an assistant to Greg Jordan at Blountstown, where Johns also played. Lister used to play for Wewa, and Browning for Port St. Joe.

Edwards said practices run weekdays from 8 to 11:30 a.m., and have so far attracted about 40 players each day from the eighth through 12th grades, along with 15 middle schoolers.

“We’re in the weight room 1.5 to 2 hours, and then outside,” he said.

Edwards, a 2006 Blountstown grad, where he played football and baseball, and was on the weightlifting team, went first to Jacksonville University, but ended up at Florida State, where he graduated in 2011 with a bachelors in physical education.

After a couple years working as an insurance agent, he coached baseball at Altha for a year, and then coached offensive and defensive backs, and junior varsity at Blountstown under Jordan for five years, and then two years under Bo Johnson.

In 2021 and 2022, he taught phys ed at Bainbridge High School, where he coached linebackers and oversaw strength and conditioning. Last season he was defensive coordinator at Wewa under Bobby Johns, who had been his head coach at Blountstown

Edwards said he hasn’t taken players to 7 on 7s but will in July. “Our time is better spent working on technique,” he said. “A lot have started for multiple years.”

On Aug. 16, Wewa plans to host a preseason game against Aucilla, with the type of playing format not yet determined.

Wewa Gator’s game schedule

Friday, Aug. 23 pre-season vs. Graceville
Friday, Aug. 30 vs. Branford
Friday, Sept. 6 vs. Vernon
Friday, Sept. 13 Bye Week
Friday, Sept. 20 vs Jefferson County
Friday, Sept. 27 @ Cottondale
Friday, Oct. 4 vs. Liberty County
Friday, Oct. 11 vs. Franklin County
Friday Oct. 18 @ FAMU
Friday, Oct. 25 @ Jay
Friday, Nov. 1 vs. Milton Central

Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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