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Blues open season with new coach, same focus

Mark Wheeler takes over for Mike Craft

BUENA VISTA, Va. –    In Buena Vista, the WSLS-10 High School Camp Tour finds a new coach, but the same goals.  The storied tradition of the Fightin' Blues program isn't forgotten. Five state titles in the glory years of the '70s and '80s under legendary coach Bob Williams make Parry McCluer High a special place to play prep football.

 

   2017 opens another chapter.  This coaching change feels more like a handoff at the home of the Blues.  Parry McCluer bids farewell to coach Mike Craft, who took the principal position at nearby Rockbridge County High. Craft's six seasons averaged nine wins, and twice the Blues advanced to the third round of the playoffs.  In steps Mark Wheeler, a Parry McCluer assistant who has been the head JV coach for the past five years under Craft.

 

   The Fightin' Blues are coming off an 11-2 season a year ago  It's important to note that all of the current Blues have been coached by Wheeler already and he's also the school's guidance counselor. He's a motivator and his philosophy won't change now that he's the guy calling the shots.

 

   "Do the little things right and the big things will take care of themselves you know?  It's not always about the winning, it's about the clawing, the scratching, the fighting to win and that's what I really try to to get across to my players at any level that I've coached at.  That's just the way we do it here. Coach Craft has done a great job building the program.  I'm just going to come in here and try to continue what he's built.  I've coached all of them. I was the JV coach for five years and so I'm familiar with what they can do and I think they're familiar and comfortable with me as a coach and I'm just really looking forward to getting it on," says coach Wheeler.

 

   Parry McCluer has exceptional size and strength up front on both sides of the ball. They open with rival Rockbridge County on Aug. 25.