William Wineberg takes the helm at West Ashley High School

by Lorne Chambers | Editor

Many were surprised this off-season when in-coming principal Ryan Cumback relieved long-time West Ashley High School head football coach Bobby Marion of his duties. None more so than Marion himself, who was caught off-guard by the decision after going 6-6 last season and lead the school to its first-ever playoff win.

With less than two months to go before the first game, there was a concern that a new coach would not have time gel with the team or get know its strengths and weaknesses. However, Cumback reached out to former WAHS assistant head coach and defensive coordinator William Wineberg, who left the school back in December and was set to take a coaching position at Moultrie Middle School, where Cumback was principal at the time, prior to accepting the WAHS principal job.

“I’d cleared out everything here: technology, keys, cleaned out the office, did all that kind of stuff. That was tough cleaning out everything, exchanged some tears, but I made the decision that I was out the door,” recalls Wineberg. “I was going over to Moultrie because they’re a feeder to Lucy Beckham High School. But I didn’t want to go over there. I had just moved to West Ashley a little over a year ago. So my wife wasn’t real excited about it and I wasn’t real excited about it.”

Then, while on summer vacation in Florida with his family, Wineberg got the call from Cumback. “He said ‘you know, I’d love to have you go out to Moultrie and still continue to pursue that,’” recalls Wineberg. “But he challenged me with this opportunity and said he believed in me and wanted me to accept it. If I didn’t accept it, he let me know they were still going to move in another direction. So I couldn’t pass it up, being a community member, I still had a lot of things here that I want to check off the list and accomplish.”

Cumback, who has made several big shake-ups since accepting the position as principal says it’s not about hiring “his people” it’s about hiring the “right people.”

“[Wineberg] thinks along the same lines as I do. The number one goal is to set them up post-high school,” says Cumback. “Our kids love Bill Wineberg. They would run through a wall for him. He’s walking up and down the cafeteria everyday talking with kids, recruiting players to come out for the team.”

“It’s a dream come true. A real dream opportunity that I’m not going to take for granted,” says the 34-year-old first-time head coach.

Not only is Wineberg familiar with the program and personnel, his nameplate is still on the office he occupied since 2010. Of course now his office is much larger and he doesn’t have to share it with the Wildcats’ baseball coach.

In addition to being the head coach, Wineberg will resume his role of running the Wildcat defense. “Future outlook, I’ll be looking for someone I can trust. But it being late in the game, I already had a couple positions I had to fill, so those were the priorities,” says Wineberg. “I’m going to keep the same defensive scheme we’ve been running for a couple years, so that makes it easier on our kids too. Down the road, the big picture, I will be looking for someone I can trust that will do a good job.”

Offensively, the Wildcats will look familiar with a few adjustments. “A lot of what we were doing, we have kept, tweaking it a little bit. We’ve primarily been a (shot)gun team in the past and we’re going stay with that,” says Wineberg. “We’re going to run option out of the (shot)gun more … So a lot of it will look the same, there’s just some fine-tuning, some tweaking here and there.

Wineberg says that the sheer volume of plays is going to be a lot less than Marion’s extensive playbook. “We used to run a ton of formation and it was hard for our kids to keep up with that,” says Wineberg. “The biggest thing offensively is getting into a package to where they can master it. So a lot of the identity will look the same. We’re still going to run a lot of option, but it will be out of a spread look. We’re still going to throw the ball a lot, too.”

Wineberg says this change from running the option from under center is more of a result of a playing to the strengths of the team’s personnel than any sweeping philosophical deviation from past years. That being said, expect the Wildcats to air it out more this season. Wineberg has high hopes for quarterback Connor Black, who started for the Wildcat’s JV team last season.

“We have a quarterback whose coming into his junior year and he can really throw it. And he’s not an under-center option guy, but he’s a good runner. He’s just better and more confident doing it out of the pistol,” says Wineberg. “We have some talent out there at receiver too that we don’t want to handcuff by just being under center running the option.”

Despite the short preparation period Wineberg is confident that the Wildcats will compete for a region title this year. He feels in another couple years, they will be considered in the same category as other perennial local powerhouses like Summerville, and Goose Creek. And he says he wants the kids to have fun doing it. Something he felt was not a priority in previous years.

“I want to make it more fun. Coach Marion did a lot of things the right way. The program got better and better from what I saw when I came in in 2010 to the time he was leaving. He helped change a lot of the culture here too,” says Wineberg. “I don’t want anyone taking that for granted. He did great work for the school and for the program. I just think we lacked fun.”

Wineberg says he also wants to work with being more open with parents and developing those relationship by being more approachable. “For the players, I think the work ethic is there. It’s in place. It’s been in place, the buy-ins been great. But my goal is to make it a lot more fun.”

WAHS opens the season on Friday, Aug. 23 when it hosts Cane Bay at Wildcat Stadium.

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