WINFIELD, W.Va. – Eddie Smolder, Winfield Generals’ head football coach, is not surprised at his team’s recent success following an overall collapse against Hurricane in week one.
Winfield has since gathered wins over Herbert Hoover, Chapmanville, and Wayne. The Generals won each of those three games by an average of 17 points, including a 33-point victory over a-then undefeated Chapmanville team.
“I would attribute our success to the off-season work our guys put in, their good attitudes and willingness to do everything we ask of them, and my coaches and I have built a family-like culture,” Smolder said. “Everybody is there for one another, but everyone is held accountable. Everyone is supposed to meet a standard, and we work towards that standard every day. No, we will never be perfect, but if we chase that, we will get better.”
The General defense has responded after allowing Hurricane to score 48 points in the season opener. Since the opening loss, Winfield has held its last three opponents to 14 points each. Smolder has been impressed with that unit’s response over the previous few weeks.
“I think our kids understand the scheme better,” Smolder noted. “They continue to work hard in practice, and being coachable allows them to correct their mistakes. If you do the right things over time, then it will become a habit. Our kids are playing hard on defense, not only for our program but for each other.”
Smolder has also seen his squad’s “never give up” mentality.
“One is not going to make or break us,” Smolder noted. “I told them that one loss isn’t going to keep them out of the playoffs, and one win doesn’t let you into the playoffs. We take one day, week, and game at a time. We hate losing, and we go out and try to win. Ultimately, only one team is going to win or lose.”
Smolder is no stranger to the Winfield community. His wife, Brooke, is the daughter of David Bailey, who has been a long-time track and field coach at Winfield. Smolder entered his first season with the Generals already having head coaching experience at Sissonville and Ripley.
He continues to learn more and more about his team as they trek throughout the 2022 season.
“These guys are a close-knit group, and they want to win,” Smolder stated. “They embrace the challenge we have given them through hard work. The kids are great and come from great families, which makes me proud to be their coach. The bottom line is that their effort and attitude have allowed them to improve each week. As a coach, I love to see that.”
This week, the road does not get easy for the Generals as they welcome Logan to Generals Stadium. The Wildcats will go into Friday’s contest 4-0 for the first time since 1990. Logan’s offense has outscored its opponents 148-40 through four weeks, averaging 37 points.
Winfield has won four straight against the Wildcats.
“They have a new quarterback, who throws the ball well and has a good arm,” Smolder noted. “They have great wide receivers, and I know they did last year as well. Their defense is also big and aggressive. It is a huge challenge for us. We have been working hard for Friday. It is our most important game because it is our next.”
The Generals return key playmakers from last season’s 5-5 team, and others hardly saw the field that has become important playmakers for Smolder.
“Tommy Fluharty and K-Jaun Pearson are two guys that have stepped up,” Smolder said. “Neither one of them played a snap last year, and they both started for us and played both sides of the ball. K-Juan was injured last season and sidelined him all last season. Once he healed up, he got into great strength and worked hard. I love having him on the team. He is a coachable kid.
“Tommy had not played since little league. He has always wrestled and is a tough kid who works hard. Tommy is arguably one of the most focused kids I have seen as a coach. He is intense and focused. I thought he could play and help us, and he has done just that.”
Winfield and Logan will kick off at 7 p.m. from Generals Stadium.