The James River is all that separates Fluvanna County from Buckingham County. Josh Wallace is hopping over that bridge and taking over a football project for the second time since he moved to the area back in the summer of 2016.
After two years with the Knights, Wallace was officially named the program’s newest coach on Friday, replacing Steve Szarmach who resigned after three seasons with the team this past fall. Fluvanna County athletic director Scott Morris introduced Wallace to players and the newest member of the Flucos expressed his excitement for what rests ahead.
“I saw the (job) opening and it really just piqued my interest,” Wallace said. “The facility is top-notch, it’s a one high school county that’s not far from where I was at. There’s nowhere to go but up, I kind of like to get into programs where you’re building them up. That’s what I do.”
At Buckingham Wallace compiled a 7-13 record and improved upon his 2-8 mark in 2016 with a 5-5 record that saw a four game winning streak to close out the season. The Knights just narrowly missed out on a playoff berth.
“It took time,” Wallace said. “When the kids realized we were there for them, it made a huge difference and we started playing for what we believed in — each other.”
Wallace hails from Arizona and started out playing college football at Glendale Community College before transferring to play at Liberty University in Lynchburg. Before taking over at Buckingham, Wallace coached at Petersburg. In all his time as a coach, 100 percent of his players graduated.
In his two years at Buckingham Wallace ran a run-first pistol offense. This past year the Knights averaged 27.9 points and scored 84 points against Cumberland. However, Wallace would not commit to what style of offense he plans to install at Fluvanna until he’s able to evaluate the Flucos game tapes and off season workouts.
And for Wallace, that’s the focus, getting to know his team as he’ll be at the school conducting offseason workouts three times a week before coming on staff full time at the end of the academic year.
“I don’t think there’s a magic recipe,” Wallace said. “Every coach has their things they like to do. I’ve done this before but I think the biggest thing is showing these young men that you care about them.”
Wallace is tasked with trying to end the Flucos’ playoff drought which stretches back to 2000. Fluvanna’s last winning season came the following year in 2001. The Flucos are looking to win their first Jefferson District matchup since they beat Louisa County in 2013. After a winless 2015, the Flucos went 1-9 in 2016. Fluvanna finished 2-8 last year to improve for the second straight season.
The hiring of Wallace also opens up the window for Buckingham and Fluvanna to renew what was once a regular out-of-district meeting between the two neighboring counties. The last football game between them came in 2012.
“It’d be nice to get a good border rivalry going again,” Wallace said. “It’d be a good community event.”