Friday, August 06, 2010

SPORTS>>Coach jumps to task for NP

Leader sportswriter

Coach Terrod Hatcher has had plenty to think about since North Pulaski began football practice.

But Hatcher hasn’t had room for himself in his thoughts.

Hatcher, 23, was hired at short notice as Falcons head coach to take over for departed coach Rick Russell, now across town at Jacksonville. Hatcher, promoted from offensive coordinator took the job with less than a week to go before practice started Monday.

Nearing the end of his first week, Hatcher said Friday morning the idea of being head coach still hadn’t taken hold.

“To be honest it hasn’t even really hit me,” he said. “I haven’t had time to really think about how I feel about being a head coach. I had to jump into it right away.

“Really, I was doing the same things I’ve been doing since spring football so it’s not that big a change.”

Counting heads, pushing papers, dealing with personnel, hiring a new assistant, fighting this week’s intense heat and installing offensive and defensive schemes have taken up most of Hatcher’s time.

In other words, he’s coaching.

“I’m very excited,” Hatcher said. “Today they were kind of sluggish. They were worn out from this week of practice. I was proud of their effort and I was proud of their conditioning, actually. They’re in better shape than I expected them to be.”

Hatcher said 42 players reported with few significant absences from the group that turned out in the spring.

“I’m satisfied. Of course you’d like to have 60, but I’m satisfied with what we have,” Hatcher said.

The Falcons welcomed one newcomer, Jacksonville transfer Christopher Griffin, who could be an asset in the defensive backfield, Hatcher said. Otherwise, the faces are familiar.

While the players reported in good shape, Hatcher wanted to focus on conditioning as much as the 100-degree heat would allow.

“We worked on position drills and getting the guys in shape,” he said of the early work schedule. “I didn’t want them to get out there and get them in pads and they die.”

Hatcher wasn’t joking. Like all programs in the area he has made allowances for the disagreeable weather, calling for frequent breaks out of the sun, pushing plenty of fluids and cold towels and urging the players to continue to hydrate and eat right at home.

“That is a huge concern,” Hatcher said.

Since he was named head coach, Hatcher hired a new defensive assistant, Bobby Vaughn, former ninth-grade head coach at Mills High School.

Vaughn and J.B. Pendergraft will serve as co-defensive coordinators, Hatcher said, and will be in charge of installing the Falcons’ 3-3 stack formation.

“Our main thing is stopping the run and that’s what we’re going to do,” Hatcher said. “We’re going to be physical, flying to the ball. That’s our goal.”

Offensively, as previously noted by Hatcher, North Pulaski will be more of a Spread team behind returning quarterback Shyheim Barron as it tries to reverse a losing trend in which it has won four games the past six years.