By J. Daniel Rollins
Register-Herald Sports Writer
Vince Culicerto has enjoyed his last three seasons as head coach for Shady Spring.
The Tigers were a playoff team in both 2010 and 2011 in Class AA, before making the jump to Class AAA in 2012.
Part of the reason for that success was the play of Adam Weeks and Houstin Syvertson.
Weeks was named captain of the Class AA all-state first team his junior season, when the Marshall University walk-on threw for 2,293 yards and 27 touchdowns. He came back his senior season and threw for 2,002 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Syvertson, who will walk on with West Virginia University in the fall, picked up 779 yards rushing for eight touchdowns to go along with 324 yards and four touchdowns receiving.
He was also the team’s punter, averaging 42 yards per punt on his way to first team Class AAA all-state honors.
But now that the Shady Spring duo is moving on to the state’s two Division I schools, Culicerto has taken to the first week of summer practice with the challenge of replacing his two star pupils.
“It’s always tough when you lose guys like Adam and Houstin,” Culicerto said. “They came into the season ready each year; that was a big plus. As far as replacements, you’ve got to move on. You march on.”
Culicerto admits that replacing the duo will be an uphill battle, but he hopes that a transfer from Woodrow Wilson with a familiar last name will be more than willing to step in to Week’s shoes.
Timmy Culicerto, Vince’s nephew.
“He’s been working for the quarterback spot and throwing the ball well,” Vince Culicerto added. “Timmy’s looking good at that spot. Now he’s got some experience and looking good.”
The Tigers will look to a few youngsters to replace Syvertson.
“We’re still picking and looking through the bunch,” Culicerto said. “We had a good freshman bunch last year that was real aggressive. Some big names — you’ll know about them later. It’s a tough bunch of sophomores.”
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To say it’s been a transition year for Independence would be an understatement.
Longtime Patriots coach Scott Cuthbert retired after 25 season on the sideline of George D. Covey Stadium, taking with him a handful of seniors who started on both sides of the ball in John Powell, Aaron Tolliver and Harold Messinger.
Thankfully for the Indy faithful, they return two potent offensive weapons in quarterback Brian Sexton and running back Colton Ward.
“We have quite a bit coming back,” Independence assistant coach Richard Meece said. “We have a lot of everything — Brian, Colton, three offensive lineman, a couple of receivers and a tight end.”
Sexton will return to the Patriots as the signal caller for his senior season after passing for nearly 1,000 yards in 2012, a feat that wasn’t easy to come by in Cuthbert’s patented run-heavy offense.
Ward also returns to the backfield, after coming on midway through the 2012 season, but saw a limited number of carries due to the emergence of Powell and Tolliver. He will likely split carries with Dustin Justice.
“Defensively, we’re bringing a lot of players back,” Meece added. “We didn’t lose a whole lot there.”
Unlike their three Raleigh County counterparts, Independence hasn’t had an opportunity to view their team yet. The Patriots won’t begin summer practices until Monday morning, Meece said.
— E-mail: jrollins
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