W.T. Woodson announced last Thursday that Stonewall Jackson coach Mike Dougherty will take over its football program. Dougherty replaces Joe Dishun, who resigned in December after three seasons. The Cavaliers failed to make a playoff appearance in those three seasons, finishing with an overall record of 7-23.
“I think it definitely brings excitement to the program,” Woodson Director of Student Activities Dan Checkosky said. “He’s a high-energy guy, and he’s had success at every place that he’s been, especially at Stonewall Jackson. He’s a quality character guy who can lead young men on and off the field.”
Dougherty, 43, coached at Stonewall for six seasons, leading the Raiders (8-5) to a 6A North region semifinal appearance against eventual state champion Centreville last fall. Stonewall finished the 2012 season at 9-2, a campaign that featured its first playoff appearance since 2004.
In his six years at Stonewall, Dougherty finished with an overall record of 29-35. He had previously been a head coach at Dominion High (2003-07) and Prince Edward High (2000-03).
Dougherty’s arrival will mean the introduction of a high-octane, no-huddle offense that aims to wear down defenses and pour on points. Led by Virginia Tech commit Greg Stroman, Stonewall averaged 32.4 points on 79 plays per game last season.
“We’re going to try to bring some excitement,” said Dougherty, whose wife attended Woodson High. “We’ve done some things down at Stonewall that not a lot of teams are doing right now… We try to pull out the fire hydrant approach and put you at a disadvantage just based on our tempo. We’ll rotate a lot of kids on and off the field. Everybody wants to play, and in our system you’re going to have a lot of opportunities to get on the field.”
Dougherty indicated that Woodson would be bringing back some key skill position players next season but said they’ve got work to do at the line of scrimmage following the graduation of several key seniors this year.
“I’m going to do my best this spring to get out to as many events as possible and start to get to know the kids and just start recruiting them to come play football,” said Dougherty, who will teach weight training at Woodson next year. “A school of 2100 kids, there’s got to be enough athletes at that school to field a competitive team.”