Football Welcomes New Head Coach Scott Abell

Jake Carver-

The new year signaled a landmark change for the Davidson football program: the hiring of Head Coach Scott Abell. Abell previously coached at Washington and Lee University, a Division 3 program, and will be making his first foray into the FCS football scene next season.

For the last five years, the program was run by Paul Nichols ‘03, who held a 7-49 record at Davidson. After the non-renewal of Nichols’s contract in November, Abell jumped at the opportunity to coach a Division 1 program with a prestigious academic reputation and small student population, similar to Washington and Lee.

Abell prides himself on instilling “winning” cultures. He began his head coaching career Liberty High School, where he inherited a winless team and led them to a district championship within three years. Soon after he coached Amherst High School to two consecutive Virginia state titles. At Washington and Lee, he coached the Generals to a 39-24 record and three Old Dominion Athletic Conference titles. He was voted ODAC coach of the year three times and Willie Lanier Virginia State Coach of the Year twice.

Abell is notable for his use of the triple-offense spread offence and emphasis on the run game. His Generals led Division 3 football in rushing yardage in three of the past six years. He is expected to see similar success at Davidson with first-year running back Wesley Dugger, who had a standout season in which he rushed for an impressive 1,131 yards. “Coach Abell is a downhill football type of guy, and of course I’m happy about that, being a running back,” says Dugger. “I’m excited to play a grittier kind of football.”

Members of the football team are excited to see what Dugger will do in Abell’s system. This includes first-year quarterback Tyler Phelps, who admits he may be passing the ball less than he has in the past. “There is going to be a lot of change, but it is change that is obviously needed,” says Phelps. “I know I’m not going to be passing as much… but I told Coach Abell, I don’t care how we win, as long as we win.”

While he is renowned for his offensive successes, Abell is equally enthusiastic about the changes he will bring to the defensive end. He has brought five coaches with him from Washington and Lee, including Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers Coach Jon Berlin. Abell emphasizes Berlin as a crucial, but often overlooked, component of his success with the Generals. “We have already evaluated the defense…. Last year the team was put in uncomfortable situations that were not suited for who we are or what we can be,” says Abell. “Our goal is to create a system where our guys can work hard and be successful.”

The coaching staff is already working extensively with the student-athletes on the football team. Abell feels fortunate to find that his players already have a “close bond” and “enjoy being around each other.” However, both he and his players know that there needs to be a major change not only in the game plan, but also the mentality and culture of the team. “What we want is an expectation to win, and a belief in that we can be better than we are,” says Dugger. “If we up our confidence, that’s what’s going to take us to the next level.”

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