BROOKLET – There was something different about the Southeast Bulloch Yellow Jackets when they took to Fred Shaver Field Thursday on the first day of spring practice.
When the 2009 season came to an end, there were 53 players on the roster. Less than six months later, under first-year SEB coach Pat Collins, 110 Yellow Jackets suited up to begin spring drills.
“Coach Collins went around talking to everybody trying to get them interested in football, get them out here,” said running back Bodie Collins, who played football for eight years before taking a break last season. “(The coaches) seem like they’re really good at what they do, and I’m looking forward to seeing what they’ve got. I’m not familiar with (the Wing-T offense being installed) but I’m really interested in doing it.”
Pat Collins had enough challenges taking over the program with a new coaching staff and a new system, and with a renewed interest by the student body in the team, Collins had to turn his attention to accommodating so many players.
“It means more equipment, better equipment, better facilities,” said the coach who’s most recent coaching job was Screven County. “The SPLOST improvements that we’re going to be taking advantage of – that the county has voted for and the Board of Education has approved - are certainly going to give our facilities a major up lift in December. There are some infrastructure things that we’ve got to get in place for these boys. We’ve taken some steps in that direction, but we’ve got that many steps to take again.”
The first step was in putting together a staff, and Collins has found years of experience to join him, thanks to the efforts of SEB principal Trey Robertson.
“You can not have any success with a high school organization – I don’t care what it is – unless the building principal and the administration above the building principal wants you to be successful,” Collins said. “(Robertson) sees the importance in that, and he’s been instrumental in us being able to get this kind of number out.”
Jack Webb, whose most recent post was Effingham County, takes over as the team’s defensive coordinator, running a 50-front.
“Jack’s been running the 50 for, I think he said 100 years now,” Collins joked. “He’s certainly well versed in the 50 defense. You’ve got to have a good defense. If you watch our first practice, there will be no offense practiced. We are going to practice defense.”
Webb is pleased with how the staff has been able to work together since January and feels the next step is bringing the team together.
“The biggest challenge for us is just getting to know who the kids are,” said Webb, who will also take on athletic director duties with the program. “Not only putting a name with a face, but also their athletic ability on the football field – finding out what they can do and where they can help us the most. Just like our coaching staff has to be a cohesive bunch, we’ve got to build that team unity.”
Also joining the staff is a pair of former Statesboro Blue Devils - Josh Thompson and Jeremy Grant – who played at SHS under Buzz Busby.
Thompson played at Auburn and in the NFL for the Rams before injury put a halt to his playing days.
Sean Coburn, a Citadel graduate, will coach the secondary.
Former Screven County and Georgia Southern quarterback Chris Pye, who played for Collins at SCHS, also joins the staff, along with Brandon Peterson, the Yellow Jackets’ head baseball coach. Peterson knows a thing or two about football, winning back-to-back state titles at Parkview as a player during its 30-0 run.
Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.