There is one word that can describe the sentiment at this year’s East Jackson spring football training. That word is simply “new.”
The Eagles have new coaches, a new athletic director, and new offensive and defensive schemes. And while transitions are not always easy, most of these changes are likely welcome at a program that has gone 6-24 in its last three seasons.
“Our staff is kind of new together,” said first-year Eagle head coach Robert Andrews. “Expectations are changing for the kids. There is a lot of ‘new’ in a lot of ways.”
Andrews, who was previously the defensive coordinator at Grayson High School, says he is excited to see relationships develop between his players and coaches.
“Everybody is just getting to know each other,” he said. “I don’t know the kids real well, and they don’t know me or the new coaches, but we are learning each other and learning what to expect.”
With the addition of Andrews, East Jackson also acquired new coaches Brent Tisdale and Gary Hughes.
Tisdale, formerly the athletic director at Grayson, will serve as the athletic director and an assistant coach for the Eagles. Hughes was previously the defensive coordinator at Dacula High School, and will head up the Eagle defense in 2013.
Andrews said he was pleased with how the first week of spring training went.
“It’s been pretty good,” he said. “Our turnout has been good and we have a lot of kids that are interested in playing.”
East Jackson has several experienced players returning from last year, but with new offensive and defensive schemes, players may find themselves fighting for positions. Andrews, however, said permanent positions are yet to be decided.
“The first week, I more or less let everyone try out in any position that they wanted,” he said. “Friday, I put them were I wanted them. For the most part, the players had a pretty good idea of where they wanted to be. Now it’s only a matter of fitting everyone in where they would be best for the team, and seeing who is going to develop. It’s a puzzle every year.”
Andrews plans on running offensive plays primarily out of the Wing-T formation – in contrast to the spread offense the Eagles ran in 2012. He also wants to switch to a predominantly 3-4 defense. He says these schemes and formations will allow the Eagles the most flexibility.
“Personnel really dictates all of that,” he added. “Our abilities are going to determine what we are in. The reason we are going to base out of those is mainly because of the versatility.”
As the Eagles wind down spring training, the work is far from over. Andrews plans on keeping his squad busy this summer with weightlifting, speed training, scheme workshops and several camps.