Atop the list of positives for coach Dean Howell as he approaches his first season with the White Knoll Timberwolves: a good reputation.
Howell has spent the spring and summer getting to know his new athletes, but they long before had an idea of what kind of team he would mold.
“I think the biggest thing is that they played A.C. Flora last season, so they know what kind of team I like to put on the field. They know how hard my guys work,” said Howell, who joins White Knoll this year after four seasons — and two Class 3A semifinal appearances — with the Falcons.
Howell said many of the Timberwolves were aware of his success in rebuilding Flora’s program. Hence, they were ready to place their confidence in him and the new Timberwolves staff.
The Timberwolves, after all, also already were in a position of growth.
Under outgoing coach Gordon Walters, White Knoll had one of the program’s strongest performances in 2012.
“The success they had last year gave them a taste, and they really want more of that,” Howell said, “and I think, the coaches that we have having come from positions of success, it helps a lot.”
Howell’s White Knoll crew does not include many of his Flora assistants. But it has become a cohesive staff that has earned the players’ trust.
That staff includes defensive coordinator Kenny Freeman from Chapin, former Batesburg-Leesville coach Courtney McInnis and Wake Forest star DeAngelo Bryant.
“It’s a great group of guys that has made my job a lot easier,” said Howell, who also is the Timberwolves’ athletics director. “Having to give my attention to other sports, I can’t just pour myself into football like I used to. But I’ve been able to put together this great staff that I know will take care of things.
“I was able to get guys who think like me and treat kids like me, and I’m able to have confidence in what we can do together,” Howell said.
The streamlined transition has been a key initial step in doing what it takes to make White Knoll’s season a winner.
“We’ve had a really good summer in the weight room, and we’ve been making some strides,” Howell said. “We’ve got good kids who want to be good players. The work ethic has been great, the attitude has been great.”