John H. Lilly likes a warm day for high school football practice.

Really warm.

“I want it to be a whole lot hotter than what it is,” the veteran Woodrow Wilson High School coach said of his team’s coolish opening week of practice. “We need more heat to get us into shape.”

Lilly and his staff welcomed 88 players Monday, an average turnout for the Flying Eagles.

He said there’s nothing fancy about the coaching in the first week.

“We work on the basic fundamentals,” he said.

“If you fine tune little things, the big things will take care of themselves.”

Woodrow returns a veteran club from last season’s 4-6 squad.

The Eagles have good team speed and size, but Lilly especially likes his team’s experience.

“I expect them to play like a team that’s been in big games before,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of starters back, but for us to be successful, we need a whole lot more ‘we’ and a lot less ‘me.’

“I’m pretty excited. I like this team’s attitude. They’ve been focused on team goals since December.”

Woodrow has eight starters back on offense, including three big linemen, a savvy quarterback and a solid receiver corps.

Center Rodney Robinson, a 6-foot, 275-pound senior, was the state’s top weightlifter last spring.

“Rodney is a walking muscle — a weight room junkie, the way I like them,” Lilly said.

Tackle John Wilson stands in at 6-foot-3, 286 pounds while guard Johnny Williams is 6-3, 265.

Quarterback Ryan Stafford is a third-year starter.

“Anytime you have a returning quarterback, you’re a step ahead of the other guy,” Lilly said.

While the Flying Eagles graduated speedster Marquel Ali, they’ve got a powerful replacement in senior Vashawn Wood, who moves over from wide receiver.

Better known for his rebounding prowess in basketball, Wood, a 6-1, 200 senior, could become a force in the Woodrow backfield.

“We’ve got four other wide receivers who can play, so we moved Vashawn,” Lilly said. “He’s worked hard in the weight room and really bulked up. He’s a kid we’re really counting on.”

Woodrow should also boast one of the state’s top kicking games. Adam Cook has been ranked the state’s No. 2 kicker by a national kicking service, while punter David Allen was second-team all-Mountain State Athletic Conference last year.

“It’s the first time we’ve got our entire kicking game back since I’ve been here,” Lilly said.

The Flying Eagles open their season at home Aug. 29 with a home game against Huntington. Parkersburg visits the following Friday.

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