HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - Prior to 2018, Hermitage football was looked at as one of Virginia’s powerhouses. Under Patrick Kane, the Panthers put together 17 straight winning seasons, 12 postseason appearances, and ten campaigns of ten or more wins.
Last season, however, Herm hit rock-bottom in Derrick Johnson’s lone year as head coach. The Panthers finished 1-9, were shutout in five of their ten games and only scored more than 14 points once.
The 2019 Panthers, however, aren’t even looking back at last year. They’re looking to bring a new energy and attention to detail that 2018 lacked, and it all starts with the man at the top. David Bedwell has taken the reins of the Hermitage program, after two years away from the sidelines. Bedwell was previously the head coach at L.C. Bird, leading the Skyhawks to three consecutive state championships and Dominion District dominance.
“Just missing football,” Bedwell said of his return. “That’s what I’ve always loved and that’s what I’ve always wanted to do and being away makes you even more aware of that’s what you want to do.”
Bedwell previously was a head coach for 20 seasons in the area- three at Henrico, 17 at Bird. Now he looks to re-energize a program and it only takes one stop at a Hermitage practice to see the Panthers have turned the page and are not paying much attention to last year.
“Team bonding, and worrying about the future and what the future holds,” junior linebacker Jasiah Robinson said of the team’s focus. “The little stuff we could do by keeping your foot behind the line and stuff, just minor things that we can fix to make this season a great season.”
“I know they work hard, I know they’re excited, I know that they care, I know that they’re here everyday, grinding it out like we ask them to do,” Bedwell said of his team. “I think they can be successful if they continue to do those things.”
The new Hermitage head coach said that he has not watched much film from last season when it comes to the Panthers’ struggles. He’s not concerned about how many starters the team has returning. “We’ll determine our starters starting [Monday] when we step on the field,” he said.
One of Bedwell’s main focuses, however, is to get his players to finish, something he doesn’t think happened much a year ago.
“We want to finish the drill, we want to finish the run, we want to finish the weight session, we want to finish. Even if you’re tired we want to finish, and if we can finish and find a way to grind through things, then I think good things will happen.”
Hermitage opens its 2019 season on August 30, hosting Richard Wright Public School.
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