The Falcons also are coming off an impressive Mountain 7 District championship highlighted by victories over Union and Ridgeview.
And though they lost veteran quarterback Gabe Boothe to graduation, another Boothe — Jadon — is eager to fill his brother’s shoes under center.
“Our work ethic this offseason has been tremendous. The preseason practices have been some of the best I’ve ever been around,” said second-year coach Garrett Amburgey. “We’ve got six returning starters on offense and four on defense. We’ve also got a lot of guys that have waited their turn and will get their chance to shine.”
The offensive line — headed by Major Cook and Dylan Hale — is one of the team’s strengths. The seniors have been playing together for most of their careers at Abingdon.
“We’ve got a great group of seniors up front,” Amburgey said. “We know we have to run the football to be successful and have a balance. They’ve worked on their technique and are constantly getting after it. It’s a fun group to watch.”
Perhaps one of the most versatile players in South-west Virginia is junior Martin Lucas, who’s listed as a wide receiver and defensive back but could play running back, Amburgey said. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Lucas should make a major impact wherever he plays.
“(Martin) can do a lot of things. He has a lot of size and he runs the ball hard. We’ve been talking in the offseason about trying to get him not to let just one guy bring him down,” the coach said.
Amburgey’s squad — tough to beat inside Falcon Stadium over the past five seasons — faces road tests against Richlands, Tennessee High and Ridgeview. Those games are huge for the Falcons’ hopes of a deep postseason run.
“We have one of the toughest schedules around. We want to test ourselves against those teams and we want to get better by playing them,” Amburgey noted. “We’ll be battle-tested if we make the playoffs and we know what challenges lie ahead of us. Our guys are ready for those challenges.”
Aug. 30 John Battle
Sept. 6 at Gate City
Sept. 13 Pulaski County
Sept. 20 at Richlands
Sept. 27 at Tennessee High
Oct. 4 Wise Central
Oct. 11 Virginia High
Oct. 25 at Ridgeview
Nov. 1 Union
Nov. 8 at Lee High