Deron Donald had been head football coach at E.E. Smith barely two months last year when he started his team’s summer workout program.
To say things are well ahead of schedule this season is an understatement.
“We were able to get a good weight program and see the guys getting stronger,’’ the second-year coach said as he watched his team take part in this year’s spring conditioning program.
“Establishing a weight program, getting in the weight room and getting bigger and stronger was one of our main things,” Donald added.
After going 3-8 last fall and failing to make the state playoffs, Donald’s concern during this preseason is to continue to build what he calls the culture he’s trying to establish within the E.E. Smith football program.
“We want to make sure all the kids are on the same page,’’ he said. “We’re trying to get the kids to buy in. Anytime there’s a new coach you’ll have some kickback.
“Building a program is bigger than Xs and O’s. It’s having 120 percent commitment and having everyone buy in.’’
Aside from the philosophical concerns, Donald’s biggest worry on the field is rebuilding his offensive and defensive lines. “You always want to make sure you have enough big guys,’’ he said. “Games are won in the trenches. You have to make sure the offensive and defensive lines are solidified.’’
Toshiro Spivey, who will be a junior wide receiver in the fall, sounded a lot like his coach when talking about what the E.E. Smith team needs to be successful this year.
“The biggest thing is we need to get unified,’’ he said. “Last year we were kind of divided. Everybody was kind of skeptical about having a first-year head coach.’’
Now that the team has a year’s experience with Donald, Spivey said the focus is on educating the younger players and getting them on board as well.
While the record was disappointing, Spivey said E.E. Smith was competitive in many games, and they also scored a 15-14 win over Cape Fear Valley 3-A regular-season co-champion Westover.
“Once we get unified and start working together it’s going to be a scary sight over here at 1800 Seabrook Road,’’ he said.
Photo: Deron Donald, E.E. Smith head football coach