Each of the county’s six head coaches brought player representatives from their schools to talk about the upcoming season. Booster club leaders and other school supporters were also in attendance.
Etowah coach Dave Svehla saw the media event as a chance to get his players’ names and faces out.
“Anything that we can do to promote our kids to get their name out there — a picture out there, a video out there — anything we can do to promote our kids is very positive for our community,” he said.
While the day was planned so that the public could learn more about the local teams, Sequoyah coach James Teter seemed to take a lot away from the experience. Teter, who diligently took notes while other coaches spoke, will face Etowah in a scrimmage on Aug. 16 and River Ridge, Cherokee and Creekview during the regular season.
“We play four of these people, so I’m trying to take notes while they’re talking,” Teter said. “We are scrimmaging Etowah, but the rest of them, we need a chance to win so that we can do some things. I need to put (Woodstock) on the schedule and I will have everybody locked down.”
While some of the coaches, such as Woodstock’s Brent Budde and Creekview’s Terry Crowder, took time to talk about the changes their programs are going through, Teter and River Ridge’s Robert Braucht said not much would be changing for either of their teams.
Braucht, who has been at River Ridge since the program’s inception, said that, aside from graduating the first class from the school, the Knights won’t look much different.
“Sorry, but it’s going to be a lot of the same,” Braucht said. “We aren’t going to change who we are. We are going to stay true to our roots when we got here. That’s what best suits our kids.”
Teter echoed the sentiment.
“Coach (Braucht) and I here are a dying breed,” Teter said. “Everybody else up here wants to spread it out and sling the ball everywhere, but I’m kind of like him. We run the ball. That’s what we do.”
With Budde at the reins, Woodstock made the switch to a spread offense. Several members of the coaching staff took a four-day trip to Tucson, Ariz., in February to learn the spread offense from Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez.
“For those four days, we spent 12 a day in the film room with them doing the work,” Budde said. “First of all, the coaching staff had to learn the new spread offense.”
Budde said the implementation has gone well as it fits the personnel.
Crowder, who was hired in February to succeed Al Morrell as Creekview’s coach, said the last five months have been a whirlwind, as he tried to learn as much as he could about his players.
During that time, quarterback Hunter Wingfield — a transfer from Cherokee — suffered a torn ACL and will be out for his senior season. Now, the Grizzlies will turn to sophomore Kyle Wilkie, who was battling Wingfield for playing time during the spring.
“I have never started a sophomore quarterback with (the spread) offense,” said Crowder, who spent the last nine years at Chattahoochee. “But it’s what I’m going to have to do.”
Crowder also pointed out that his staff will be doing almost everything differently than his predecessor, Morrell. Several players will go both ways.
“It’s just a different system than what Creekview has been used to,” Crowder said.
Svehla said that, as a second-year coach at Etowah, he’s familiar with process Crowder is experiencing at Creekview.
“Stepping in, one thing that I struggled with was being myself,” Svehla said. “The one thing that I really like about this year is that the kids have bought in. We have one year under our belt, not just in Xs and Os, but in terms of behavior and the way that we run practices. We just do things a little bit different than we were accustomed to. We had our big adjustment period last year, so hopefully the transition into this year is going to be smoother.”
Another sophomore coach, Cherokee’s Josh Shaw, and his players focused on increasing speed and strength in the offseason. They will continue to run a spread offense and a 4-3 defense, but after graduating their entire line, the Warriors are looking for some newcomers to step in.
“We are hoping to be better off, based on the fact that we are much more physical and much stronger up front,” Shaw said.
All told, the coaches of Cherokee County see opportunities for success in the upcoming season.
“I’m excited, and the players are excited,” Svehla said. “We’re looking forward to a good season.”