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Senseney takes reins of Comet football

South Boston News
Robert Senseney / October 29, 2020

Robert Senseney was introduced as the new head coach of the Halifax County High School varsity football team on Tuesday.

“I’m real excited about being here, it was a fantastic process,” Senseney said.

The announcement comes after a search to replace former head coach Grayson Throckmorton, who retired in July, culminated in Senseney’s hiring. The high school had been looking to hire Senseney as much as two weeks ago, but an unexpected closure of the board’s Central Office due to an outbreak of COVID-19 led to ad delay as scheduled meetings were postponed.

HCHS Principal Michael Lewis said he was happy to have the new coach on board as the football program prepares to embark upon “a new direction.”

Comet athletic director Allen Lawter echoed those thoughts and described himself as “excited and ready to get going.”

Superintendent of Schools Mark Lineburg, who has some coaching history with Senseney, said, “I just want to welcome Rob Senseney.”

Lineburg complimented all those involved in bringing Senseney to Halifax County. He described the selection process as top-notch and felt the outcome was the desired result all stakeholders were looking for.

The superintendent noted those involved with the recruitment process had a great candidate pool to choose from. “There were so many good folks that were interested in this position,” Lineburg said. “And I think that speaks well to the stability we have at Halifax County High School right now.”

He brought up Senseney’s time with him while on his coaching staff at Brookville High School in Lynchburg. Lineburg said Senseney had a distinguished career and that he was glad for him to wear the Blue & White and be a part of the Comet football community.

“I’m real proud that Rob Senseney will be a part of it. [He] was on my staff at Brookville in 1997. I certainly had no influence on the job — he earned the job himself.”

Senseney went on to expand on his thoughts for coming to Halifax and what the team will look like on offense and defense.

“The process showed me how much they cared about the kids, number one; and number two, how important athletics is to the program. And number three, how it all fits together for the community,” Senseney said.

Senseney’s most recent coaching position before coming to Halifax was at Clayton High School in North Carolina. He was an assistant coach with the team and served as interim head coach for the varsity team in his final season.

Senseney took over a program that saw the school’s principal and head coach under investigation. The coach calling the situation “interesting.”

“Coming from Clayton High School, I was the interim head coach there this past season,” he said. “I had stepped down from another position (West Johnson High) and came on as an assistant there and then the head coach, he stepped down.”

Senseney noted some of the reasons he decided to apply for the position were rooted in the fact that he was familiar with the Halifax community and to some extent the Comet football program.

“I was comfortable,” Senseney said. “One, I was familiar with the program, because I’ve coached against it when I was at William Fleming and scrimmaged against it at Gretna. I always saw a lot of positives about the program.”

Senseney won two state championships while at Gretna in 2003 and 2004.

The coach shared that he had been wanting to get back to Virginia, “and just a lot of pieces fell into place.” He said the timing of the need for a Comet coach, his knowledge of the area and the Comets’ opponents all intrigued him.

Talking offense and defense and what he sees as strengths and weaknesses of the program, Senseney said the Comets remind him of a lot of South Carolina and South Georgia schools. Community oriented, sports oriented and really the social heartbeat of that community — one school, one system, one county, much like Halifax County.

The Comets offense will definitely be up tempo and some changes will be in place for the defense, too.

“Obviously I’m going to be up tempo, I think that is where football is gone,” Senseney elaborated. “Look at the modern version of the spread — [it] has grown and changed.”

He sees offensive schemes featuring 10 personnel with four wide receivers, and 11 personnel bringing in a tight end-type body. “That’s where football has really gone in that direction,” he continued.

“Utilizing a tight end or H-back. Hopefully we’d like to have some type of dual threat quarterback that can possibly get the edge, a runner and get the ball downfield. But our main idea is to be up tempo … push the pace of the game.”

On defense Senseney contemplates an odd front setup. Three-four base or most likely a 3-3-5 set. Senseney said all of this of course depends on available personnel.

As far as issues related to COVID-19 and being able to get back to holding some type of team development and conditioning sessions, Senseney said these are fluid situations right now and a lot will depend on decisions made by the school board. The coach said he’d stand by and support whatever the county’s plan is to return kids to school and sports.

“[With] covid, [I’m] just trying to make everybody feel good about moving forward. They have a plan and I’m going to be onboard with the plan.”

The new coach said before he can even talk to the team, he suspects there will be a lot of talk with the administration on how to implement the plan and give kids the most complete picture.

He says he has a Plan A, B, C and an “oh-crap plan” too, if student-athletes can’t begin working out until January. The coach said right now it’s tough times for everybody socially, financially and emotionally. He spoke of how conditioning plans could be flexible to handle the changes that all sports programs at all levels of participation are currently experiencing.

Zoom meeting will probably be the first contact method used to meet the team. “I’m going to comply publicly and privately with the plan.”

“We want kids to know that we’re going to be a base of support for them,” Senseney said. “Got to let the kids know you care and be honest with them.”

Senseney said that all the best plans in the world won’t work if you can’t get the kids to believe in what you’re trying to accomplish. “You’ve got to get that buy-in from them.”

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