Portal first year head coach Jason McEachin has only officially been on the job just over a month, but he is already hard at work to try and change what has been a culture of sub-par football to say the least.
Loud music playing on the practice field and multiple position coaches putting players through summer drills is something new for the Portal Panthers.
“This is out second week out here on the field and the energy is great,” said McEachin, “I think the word is getting out that we are doing things a little differently and our numbers are continuing to grow.”
McEachin feels the numbers are somewhere between the mid 30’s to the mid 40’s but admits it has been tough to get an exact count because through the first few practices some have been there for all, and some have only been able to make a few.
“We have come a long way in a short period of time,” said McEachin. “A lot of guys are in and out of camp as they play other sports, and we are happy for them to play other sports. When we get all the kids out here on the days they can all attend we are really pleased with the numbers.”
Just seven years ago the Panthers had one head coach and one lay coach as an assistant. This year the Portal football staff is eight strong and made up of a few returning coaches as well as a couple that McEachin brought in with him.
“With coach Flott and a few other defensive coaches back they are ahead of where we are on offense,” said McEachin. “On offense we have had to take baby steps so far. We need to make sure everyone understands the fundaments of each position and what we demand from them. We haven’t done a lot of team offensive work, but we hope that when we wrap up the month of June, we can start getting into implementing our offense.”
Since the Panthers were unable to hold spring practice one of the main things coach McEachin is trying to do with summer workouts is to get to know his team and see where players can best fit in.
“A lot of the drill work we are doing is a way for us to evaluate what we have,” said McEachin. “We are trying to find out the versatility of the guys we have and where we can best use them. I have been pleasantly surprised that we have so many players that seem like they can catch and run the ball.”
With McEachin implementing a spread offense the number of players that fit that scheme is something else McEachin is excited about..
“I know they have played a different style in the past so I wasn’t really sure how many players could catch and run with the ball,” said McEachin. “It is really helpful to have so many players who have that skill set and it should help us be able to distribute the ball to a lot of different guys.”
Even though the Panthers are just starting to get into their offense they are still going to be participating in a couple seven on seven throwing camps over the next month.
“We have a couple of throwing camps scheduled for July as well as a padded camp,” said McEachin. “I felt it was important to get some camp work, but I don’t want to overwhelm them as we are still trying to get our offense implemented. I’m not as much worried about us winning a drill against another team as I am trying to get us better as a team. We may add something later if things look to be progressing well.”
Portal opens the 2021 season August 27 at Montgomery County.