New JCCHS coach goes about implementing his pace in practice
WHATEVER the Panthers do under new coach Benji Harrison, he wants them to do it fast.
It doesn’t matter the situation.
“Never walk on that field,” Harrison told a group of players returning from a water break on the first day of practice Monday.
Harrison, who takes over for former coach Billy Kirk, has gone about installing his fast-paced tempo as his first spring practice with Jackson County gets under way.
“I think the kids are excited,” Harrison said of starting practice. “I think they feel like they’ve got a lot to prove.”
The former Flowery Branch offensive coordinator was hired in January to help get a Panther program saddled with 19 straight losing seasons to the next level. Jackson County went 3-7 last year.
This spring is extremely important for Harrison and his new players as he installs his schemes and pace of play. Between 90 and 100 players are expected to participate in spring workouts.
“We’ve got to teach tempo and we’ve got to install new terminology and a new scheme,” he said. “But really in the end, football is football. The big thing with us coming out of spring is that we’ve got to evaluate where we’re at and we’ve got to teach the tempo that we want to play in.”
A fast tempo is what helped Flowery Branch thrive under Harrison’s direction last year in his first season as offensive coordinator. The Falcons averaged 44.8 points a game as Flowery Branch made a run to the state quarterfinals.
Harrison will begin to install his spread offense this spring, while the Panthers will transition to new defensive coordinator Tivrus Dixon’s system — a 4-3 base with multiple looks.
“The key to defense to me is you’ve got to play with a lot of emotion,” Harrison said. “I think the scheme and all is important but it’s the same thing — we’ve got to teach a certain mentality and a certain tempo.”
Naturally, Harrison and company will also conduct a lot of personnel evaluation this spring as he gets used to his new players. He said that the depth chart is wide-open across the board.
“As far as I’m concerned, I don’t know any positions yet,” Harrison said. “I think we want to create as much competition as we can. It’s good for a kid who maybe feels like he deserves another shot at it. We don’t know how good he is.”
Jackson County’s spring season will run through May 14 when it holds a “Monday Night Football” spring intrasquad scrimmage at 6 p.m. Harrison thought a Monday game would add a little excitement to the spring finale.
“I think there will be a lot of interest in kind of wanting to see what’s going on,” Harrison said. “I think it will be good. I think the boys will enjoy it. It’s just something a little bit different. I’m looking forward to it.”
Until then, the Panthers will continue to get in valuable practice time with their new coach.
“I think the key to our success is how we practice — the fast-paced tempo on both sides of the ball,” Harrison said. “We want to get as many reps everyday as we can.”
JCCHS Class of 1989
05/03/12 at 03:15 PM
Finally, Jackson County has a sound football coach. Let's hope he gets the support from the administration to succeed. Personally, I'll believe it when I see it.
JCCHS class of.....NEVER!
05/04/12 at 10:13 AM
86-234-4 .272% record for the past 31 years, no region titles, 7 winning seasons in 31 years, only 2 all-state players in 31 years. Looks like a history problem to me, and it is not on the Panthers side. So for all you Monday morning qb's out there we will just sit back and watch and see if history continues to repeat and the Vegas line today says.....odds are on the side of history. Please read Mr. Buffingtons article a while back on Panther Football, he is 100% correct. Jefferson will dominate the Panthers and so will the rest of 8-AAA; 2012 will be another season of anticipation ending with frustration and disappointment. In the words of a certain politician, " if you put lipstick on a pig, its still a pig".