For most coaches, a 34-year drought between victories as a head coach would be cause for a job search.
At Bulloch Academy, that kind of span is exactly what Ronnie Hodges is looking for.
Last patrolling the sidelines as a head coach for Statesboro High School from 1970-77, Hodges has spent the last few years of his extensive coaching career assisting Clint Morgan at Bulloch Academy.
Last week, Morgan announced his plans to take the head coaching job at Frederica in St. Simons this coming fall, leaving Hodges as the man tasked with keeping up the Gators’ recent run of success on the football field.
"It’s exciting to be back in this position again," said Hodges of his return to a head coaching role. "Everything happened pretty fast. A few weeks ago, no one thought we’d need a new coach and then I was informed that I’d be in the position at the beginning of this week. I’ve just hit the ground running."
Getting down to business quickly is the main goal as Hodges’ promotion comes in the middle of spring practice for Bulloch.
Though the coaching change came as a surprise to all of the players, Hodges is pleased with the focus that they have shown.
"All of the kids have responded well," said Hodges. "Everyone is excited to be back out on the field. (Morgan’s departure) was a surprise, but they’re still working hard."
The coaching change will also bring about a new look to the Gator offense, which was an overwhelming force for much of the last two years.
Morgan’s flexbone system will be tweaked a bit, still focusing on the running game, but offering some different looks in the BA backfield.
"It’s a little different, but a lot of things won’t change," said Hodges. "We’ll still run some option, but we’ll have some I-formation and misdirection. We aren’t that big, so we won’t run as much of a power game, but we’ll find the right person to put in the right position."
Also departing from last season’s squad are some key players, including the entire offensive backfield that formed the Gators’ menacing rushing attack.
For now, Loy Waters is the favorite to supplant Brandon Walker as quarterback, and a host a fresh faces are slotted to fill in the holes to keep the Gators competitive in their second season at the Triple-A level of the Georgia Independent School Association.
"This is a close-knit, hard working group of kids," said Hodges. "It’s also going to be a larger group. Our numbers are up again this year and we’ll have one or two more moving in over the summer. That depth should really help us once the season gets underway."
Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.