Tuesday, July 27, 2010

SPORTS>>Hatcher is taking charge of Falcons

Leader sports editor

High school football is, of course, a young man’s game.

So is high school football coaching, at least at North Pulaski.

Offensive coordinator Terrod Hatcher, 23, has been promoted to head coach, pending final approval by school officials, just in time for the start of the season. Practice begins Monday.

His promotion makes Hatcher one of the younger head coaches in Arkansas high school football.

“Well I thought it was an honor, to be honest with you, that people actually thought I was ready at this age to be a head coach,” Hatcher said. “I think I’m prepared.”

Hatcher transferred from Arkansas State to Arkansas Tech, where he graduated witha degree in mathematics.

He coached at Fuller Middle School before he was named offensive coordinator under former Falcons head coach Rick Russell, who moved to Jacksonville late last month to create the vacancy at North Pulaski.

“The coaching staff basically discussed it, that after coach Russell left so soon that it might be best if one of us got the job,” Hatcher said. “So that’s how I came about applying for it.”

Hatcher had been running the program, which right now is into its voluntary summer conditioning, since Russell departed on June 21.

Hatcher said he and the other assistants felt it was important for a staff member to get the head coaching job for the sake of continuity.

With that in mind, Hatcher wants to continue to build on what was seen as a solid offseason, spring practice and performance in the summer 7-on-7 games at Cabot.

“Actually we had been flowing right along, so we thought it would be better for the kids,” Hatcher said.

Hatcher admitted it was a tall order taking over, at short notice, a program now on its third coach in three years, has won four games the past six seasons and averaged 10.3 points a game in 2009. North Pulaski’s only victory last year was over Little Rock McClellan, 35-13.

“I agree that it’s going to be a challenge,” Hatcher said. “But like I told the board, the only way we will be able to change around the program is if we win. People won’t take us seriously and they won’t want to come to that school unless we win.”

With that in mind, Hatcher wants to continue plans to punch up the offense with elements of the Spread formation as part of multiple sets.

“We’re going to run multiple offenses,” Hatcher said. “We have a lot of talented skill positions but because we’re short on the line we have to put them in position to be successful.”

Hatcher thinks the Spread, run by returning junior quarterback Shyheim Barron, may help equalize the lack of size and depth on the line.

“Definitely,” Hatcher said. “We’ll try to be balanced but we will be spread. I think that will give us an advantage on the line.”

The Falcons lost 16 seniors from last year, but before Russell left he was touting the players’ improved size, strength and speed developed in offseason workouts.

Russell pronounced spring practice a success before departing, and the Falcons held their own with victories in the 7-on-7 league.

“We had such a good spring and such production in the spring we’re actually excited,” Hatcher said. “We’re thinking that stuff we learned in the spring, we’re just going to build on top of that.”

Hatcher still has to find an assistant to basically replace himself on the Falcons’ staff. With his background on offense, Hatcher will oversee the play calling, but he said he and the coaches would decide soon if they were going to hire an offensive or defensive assistant.

“Everybody’s going to have a position that they’re going to watch,” Hatcher said. “They will be my eyes and ears. I will be over the offense mostly but if there is something that needs done on defense I will take over that and make sure it gets done.

“We’re trying to look at what we have and what our strengths are.”