In February of this year, Long County High School introduced Michael Pfiester as its new head coach of the Blue Tide football team. Since then, he has hit the ground running trying to turn the program around and get it ready to compete in the 2021 season.
Pfiester comes to Long County as a first-year head coach, leaving South Effingham High School as an offensive line and strength and conditioning coach to take the job in Ludowici. Since coming to Long County, he has seen positive things that give him hope for the future.
“The best thing about Long County is there is a desire to be good,” Pfiester said. “Everybody that I’ve talked to...they’ve talked about wanting to be better. They know they haven’t been very successful, there’s no way to hide it...They’ve embraced it. They understand it and I think they’re ready to have success.”
Pfiester has also seen things that need to be improved, mostly having the ability to be able to get all the kids in one place and be able to assess the talent he has for this season and future years.
“We have some kids that are still virtual,” he said. “We have some kids, a lot of kids, that aren’t in weights for one reason or another. So it’s hard during the school day to keep my thumb on them so to speak.”
Despite this, Pfiester feels like he has “done a good job of building a relationship with them and have some rapport with them and pushing them.” He just wants the opportunity to get the kids together in one place and allow them “to build camaraderie.”
Pfiester does not come to Long County without the coaching experience needed to lead a successful program. Coming from Michigan, he has spent his entire coaching career in the state of Georgia beginning in 2007.
He coached at Woodland High School in Cartersville until 2011 before becoming offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at Kennesaw Mountain High School from 2012-2017. He coached at Creekview High School for the 2018 and 2019 seasons, the former season under current Grayson head coach Adam Carter, before making his way to Guyton.
Pfiester believes that his experiences under several head coaches will help his career as a head coach at Long County. He said he will be able to “pick and choose” things that will best help him in his career.
“I have worked with guys that have had success and know what it looks like and I think I’ve been able to pull out the things that they have done in the past or when we’ve been together that fit into my belief system,” Pfiester said. “My belief system is different from those guys I’ve worked with in some ways, but it’s allowed me to pick the things that I like about what they do and apply them to my beliefs and hopefully kind of put together my own spin on a program and improve it.”
Looking at the facts, no head coach leaving Long County has ever held another heading coach job elsewhere. This makes it difficult to see why someone would want to make their first job with the Blue Tide. Pfiester had a simple answer: potential.
“I think it’s a place that there’s a lot of potential which means, again nothing’s been proven, but there’s an opportunity to improve the program,” he said. “...that’s ultimately the goal, leave it better than you found it.”
Pfiester knows he is in for a challenge by taking over a team that has won two games since 2016, especially being a first-time head coach. He says that getting the adults on board is just as important as getting the kids to buy in.
“This was my belief when I got here and I think it’s been reaffirmed since I’ve been here: I don’t think the kids are going to be the issue,” he said. “I think there’s got to be a sense of understanding from the adults in our community, the adults in the building, the adults in administration of what it takes to build and sustain a successful football program. The kids will do what you ask them to do. That’s one thing I learned a lot: that if you ask a lot of the kids, they’re going to try to do it. If you don’t ask very much of a kid, they’re not going to give you very much.”
The Blue Tide football team just wrapped its spring practices with its intersquad scrimmage game on Friday, May 21st. Pfiester said it was a challenge to get through spring, but he was overall very excited to see it all come together.
“Spring practice was extremely challenging. I think it was more difficult that I thought it was going to be from a personnel standpoint,” he said as he explained many coaches were out with track and baseball competing for state championships. “We were thin in the help standpoint, but the kids responded, they showed up, they worked...I was extremely, extremely pleased with how well they played on Friday. We split them up and had about 21 players per side, so a lot of guys got a lot of reps.”
Overall, Pfiester felt like the spring game gave him, his staff, and the players something to look forward to.
“It was encouraging to see the whole thing come together, when I wasn’t sure a week before that it wasn’t going to be able to come together. The kids got it done and they showed a lot.”
In the game, a total of seven touchdowns were scored in the game. Sophomore running back Steven Wyatt scored twice on runs of more than 60 yards, while fellow sophomore Ahmari Douglas scored on runs of 32 yards and 65 yards. Seniors Joe Saddler, Elias Lykes and Dwayne Rowe all scored as well with the latter returning a fumble 30 yards for a touchdown and an interception for a score, which was called back on a penalty.
Looking forward, Pfiester is excited to take the field in the 2021 season and compete. He believes that this season will set the foundation for the future of the Blue Tide.
“I feel like we should be competitive in every game…I don’t have a number, but we should win some games and at the end of the day we need to find a way to be competitive with the teams in our region and win a couple of region games and qualify for the playoffs...I think that would be a benchmark expectation,” he said as he talked about future expectations as well.
“I think going forward it would be to be able to maintain that on a year-in, year-out basis,” Pfiester said. “We should be a team that consistently qualifies for the playoffs and once you do that for a little while, hopefully you can build the depth and then you can be able to compete for region championships.”
Pfiester even talked about the long-term future of the Blue Tide and what he hopes to achieve with the team.
“Once you consistently have the expectation of playing 11, 12 games, then you start talking about winning region championships and then you can start talking about winning and playing 13, 14 games, and, I know it sounds crazy, but at some point if you’re not preparing to play for and win a state championship, then I don’t know why you’re doing it. That’s kind of a long term, long range plan and it starts by playing 11 this year.”
The Blue Tide football team now have two weeks off before beginning summer workouts on Monday, June 7. They will prepare to host McIntosh County Academy on Friday, August 13 for their scrimmage game before opening the regular season on Friday, August 20 against Berrien County in Nashville.