It is a new era of football for Long County.
The Blue Tide hired Head Coach Michael Pfiester to take over their program, who last coached at South Effingham where he served as the Assistant Head Coach, Offensive Line Coach, and Strength and Conditioning Coordinator since 2019.
Prior to being at South Effingham, Pfiester coached at three different schools: Woodland, Kennesaw Mountain and Creekview dating back to 2007.
The first-time head coach became the successor for J.T. Pollock, who retired at the conclusion of the 2020 season after 16 years of head coaching and four years at Long County.
Pfiester is confident in taking the Long County job, crediting his experience and mentors throughout his coaching career.
“You always think you want to do it and then you are like, ‘Holy crap, I am not ready for this,’” Pfiester said as he laughed. “But I have worked for 14 years with four different coaches, and three that won state championships as either assistants or head coaches. I took experience that I had with them and coordinating at the highest classification in Georgia. I was ready to give it a shot and do it my way. I feel like I have developed a solid plan and I just wanted to take a chance and put it to use. There is no better place than right here because we have nowhere to go but up at Long County. It is a perfect situation for me.”
Pfiester feels that his biggest challenge is serving as a liaison to parents and being responsible for an entire team instead of just players on offense like he is accustomed to.
“The biggest thing that I have noticed is that the kids are never an issue,” Pfiester said. “I have taught social studies, PE, and weights. I love being around kids. The biggest thing with being a head coach is dealing with the adults. Now they are more adults that are looking to you for answers and guidance. I am used to having just a few guys to worry about on my side of adults. Now I have got to worry about parents, administrators, and teachers. That is the biggest adjustment right now.”
During his first summer circuit with his new team, Pfiester saw a higher number of participation from his players.
“We had a much higher level of commitment to the summer workout plan than it had in the past,” he said. “Last summer we were all broken up with the COVID groups. This summer we were able to bring everyone in together and we had between 40-50 guys consistently. They understand the expectations of what we are doing in the weight room and the field.”
The newly hired Pfiester will be bringing new schemes to Blue Tide football.
With his offensive line background, he will have his team executing a ground-heavy attack on Friday nights.
“We are going to be quiet a different than they have in the past,” Pfiester explained. “We are going to run the ball a lot. I am a big believer in eliminating mistakes and variables. We are going to be under center and run the ball. Our goal is to control the ball, the clock, and eliminate the bad plays. We are going to set up play-action passes and throw on our terms.”
On defense, the Blue Tide will stack the box and run a three-man front to protect the endzone.
“We are blessed with a ton of athletes,” Pfiester said. “We have a lot of those defensive back/linebacker type of bodies. We are going to base our front out of the stack. We have a bout 7 or 8 guys that can run 4.6-4.8. Our defense is going to allow us to be multiple and we are going to base out an odd front.”
Pfiester named an abundance of Blue Tide players that will be important to the team’s success this season: Simeon Phillips, Senior Running Back and Linebacker, E.J. Lykes, Senior Outside Linebacker and Running Back, Garcia Milton, Senior Defensive End and Linebacker, and Dwayne Rowe, Senior Free Safety.
“We have 17 or 18 seniors so we have guys with experience,” he said. “Phillips is a running back and going to play some linebacker. He is a very good player. E.J. Lykes played here as a freshman and moved away and came back last year. He got injured but now he is healthy. He is the emotional leader of the defense at linebacker, and he gets reps at running back as well. Garcia Milton is going to be playing some defensive end and linebacker. He really stood out in the spring to me. Everyone knows about our three-sport athlete Dwayne Rowe with an offer from Middle Tennessee State. He stood out on the basketball court and was on the Elite Eight baseball squad. He is a very athlete guy that will be playing in the secondary.”
Players would take the initiative to put in extra work in the offseason, making their new coach proud as Pfiester said everything they do on and off the field will carry over when it is time to kick off the season.
“Off the field is great,” he said. “Our guys did a lot this summer. They would go and do some work at the rec department after practice to work on their own. That was a big step for us. They want to keep getting better. Doing the right thing in the classroom and the hallway carries over to the field. All that stuff will show up on Friday night if we do it consistently.”
Only up from here, Pfiester thinks.
He wants the Blue Tide who faced struggles, after going winless in 2020 and are currently on an 18-game losing streak.
“We got to win,” Pfiester simply said. “One of the reasons I targeted this job was to be able to go somewhere where they have not done some things. They have never made the playoffs here. They have never played 11 games here. That is our number one goal. We all know in our region we have established programs in Appling and Pierce. Those are the elephants in the room. We are going to keep trying to find a way to compete with them. At some point, we will get to a point to compete with the big dogs. I expect us to play 11 games this year.”
Their first game will be a Region 1-AAA matchup at Berrien in Nashville on August 20 and is slotted for a 7:30 kickoff.