Bradwell Institute found itself last season with its second coach in as many seasons.
Since former head coach Adam Carter returned to his coaching roots as a defensive coordinator at Reinhardt College, Bradwell hired former stellar Georgia Southern quarterback Greg Hill to make it three coaches in three years.
Starting at Bradwell after spring break, Hill was limited due to staff and calendar, and weight room continuity for players was streaky.
Hill took his team through spring knowing that the players had to make up for lost time. So the Tigers hit the weight room in earnest the first week that school was out.
“It was imperative that they hit the weights hard. We also felt it was very important that we conditioned them to be able to play five quarters if need be come fall,” Hill said.
Two players who have made the greatest gains in the weight room are linebacker Isaiah Barnes and running back Luther Echols. Barnes is strong and the team’s vocal leader, while Echols is a bowling ball who hits the hole fast and can change directions quickly. Injuries kept Echols from his potential last season.
“Isaiah is a leader by example,” Hill said. “He works hard every day. There are times we have to calm him down.”
Hill is preparing players to run the offense that he could run his sleep — the triple option, the same scheme his former college coach, Paul Johnson, runs at Georgia Tech.
“Well, our down linemen on the offensive side of the ball will be in four-point stance. We will obviously be a running team, which requires them to be physical. Defensively, we will be an attack-style team,” Hill said.
Echols, Leonard Jackson and rising sophomore Terrius Crimmel are just a few members of the running game by committee. Sophomore strong safety Josh Ingram also is expected to make an early impact.
Crimmel, considered one of the best prospects the Tigers have, emerged as an impact player last season as a freshman.
Attending the Georgia Southern FCA camp was worthwhile for the Tigers, since they were able to get a number of quality reps against good competition that showed them a combination of defensive schemes and secondary coverage.
Though originally from Florida, Hill has spent a lot of his adult life in South Georgia and knows that if 100 players can get used to the heat, it’s half the battle.
“Conditioning in the South Georgia heat during the summer has helped with mental toughness,” Hill said.
Hill has some specific goals from the first week of practice right up until the Tigers’ kickoff against Liberty County on Aug. 29 at Olvey Field.
“We hope to be able to install and build on the scheme we implemented in the spring. Primarily, we want to see them moving faster than they did in the spring. They are better conditioned and are now more familiar with our system,” Hill said.
Bradwell has two nonregion games, Liberty and Calvary Day School, before it starts the gauntlet of Region 3-AAAAA, one of the toughest in the state.
Bradwell travels to Toombs for a scrimmage Aug. 15.