It’s been a long time since 2016. That was when the Ben Lippen Falcons won the SCISA 3A State Championship. Since then the program has been in a slow decline.
The Falcons are now on their third different head coach since Derek White hoisted the state championship trophy. After one season at the helm, Stephen Cagle left to take over as co-offensive coordinator at Dorman under head coach Dustin Curtis.
Another coach with ties to Curtis steps in. Bennett Weigle takes over after three seasons as defensive coordinator with A.C. Flora. This is his second stint as head coach of a program. Weigle led the Richland Northeast Cavaliers from 2017 to 2018.
Weigle felt spring practice was a success for the Falcons. He said more kids came out for the spring than Ben Lippen has had in a long time. It was encouraging for the first-year head coach, who was missing some players that were part of the Falcons’ SCISA 3A state runner up baseball team.
Even without them, Weigle said they were still working on how the team was going to look on offense and defense.
Some of the players who stood out to Weigle were Ellis Jones, Nate Cole, Hunter Jeffcoat, Will Helmerdollar, and Charlie Johnson. Weigle said he expects big contributions from all of them this season.
Most important for Weigle during the spring session may have been laying down a foundation for success. For a program that has hit hard times lately, Weigle feels it is important to get the kids to believe they can win this season.
Weigle feels his team is capable of running the ball on offense in 2022 and stopping the run on defense. He feels good about the team’s leadership and its attitude.
He still wants the Falcons to work on understanding the small details. Weigle also wants the kids who missed because of baseball to catch up.
There are many changes to the schedule for Ben Lippen and one glaring omission. For the first time in a long time, Ben Lippen won’t face Hammond in the regular season.
The Falcons will host Asheville Christian Academy to start the season before traveling to Heathwood Hall. Hosting Pinewood Prep is next before trips to Hilton Head Christian and Porter-Gaud. Then there are three straight home games, which includes Cardinal Newman, the Falcons’ lone win in 2021. They close out the regular season at Camden Military.
Despite being in his first season at Ben Lippen and inheriting a program that hasn’t had a lot of recent success, Weigle is not tampering his expectations.
“ We’re not coming here to win one game,” Weigle said. “They shouldn’t settle for that. We haven’t put a number on what we want to win, but our expectations are to win now. This is not a long-term process.”
Weigle feels his team will have to put in a lot of hard work, but he feels he has the guys to lay a strong foundation.