Aaron LaPoe gets first taste in being C-B’s football coach at 7-on-7 competition

BLACKSVILLE— First-year head coach Aaron LaPoe and the Clay-Battelle High School football team are off and rolling with their summer practice in preparation for the beginning of the 2024 season in the fall.

LaPoe and his team will open the season at home on August 30, welcoming the Hundred Hornets to Blacksville for the first game of the new head coach’s tenure after taking over for Ryan Wilson, who served 29 years at the helm of Clay-Battelle football.

The summer is an important time for teams around the state despite the season being a few months away. For LaPoe and his staff, it is important to focus on getting everyone to commit to the purpose first and foremost.

“They have done a great job of doing everything we’re asking them to do and doing it enthusiastically,” Lapoe said. We have guys who are committed and show up even when it isn’t very fun. We’ve been lifting and coming down here for a flex day, and everyone is working hard and being great teammates.”

Practice is one thing for LaPoe and his team, but he says some things can’t be judged until they can compete against other teams, as they did on Friday evening, hosting University and Morgantown for a few hours of 7-on-7 football.

“I’m able to see how some of the guys respond to adversity when we play against other schools,” LaPoe said. “I’ve been really happy with how we’ve stayed together as a team and how much intensity we’ve had. It’s actually surprised me a few times.”

Seven-on-7 football has grown exponentially over the past few summers and has changed the way teams prepare during the summer months. Not only do schools practice against each other locally, but most travel weekly for tournaments in and out of the state.

“The kids love it,” LaPoe said. They get to go out and have fun and also compete. But it’s also tough because no one puts seven players in coverage on Friday night. That’s where the challenge is: trying to run an offense you will run on Friday night and being successful in competing. With this style of football, you may not always run the same offense you’ll run on Friday night to win.”

LaPoe says one of the most important things about summer practice is seeing who is committed and who he can count on going forward into the fall.

“The ones who are committed to our goals now will be the ones who score touchdowns or make plays on Friday night for us,” he said. They’ve shown that they can be counted on, and they will be helping the team in the best way possible.It’s important to have those players in the team to set the example early.”