Eagles defensive coach ready for season

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 27, 2000

Sports Editor

Dennis Truitt is a big man with big plans for the Goshen Eagles.

Truitt joins Eagles head coach Joe Thornton as the team’s defensive coordinator and will also work exclusively with the offensive and defensive lines.

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In Thornton’s first season with the Eagles, he assumed the responsibilities of both offensive and defensive coordinator. Now he has handed the defensive side of the ball over to Truitt, who has spent the last six years of his life coaching defense exclusively with stops at Pelham and recently at West View High School in Martin, Tennessee.

One thing about Truitt is the teams he has left are consistent winners that regularly make appearances in the state playoffs.

"I worked with the defensive line at Pelham in ’97," Truitt said. "We finished ninth in the state and made it into the second round of the playoffs. When I moved on to West View, it was basically the same thing. We went 9-3 and finished ninth in the state of Tennessee in Class 2-A."

Truitt is from Decatur and played football at Austin High School. He also played one year at the University of North Alabama and two seasons under legendary college coach Howard Schnellenberger at Louisville.

When Thornton gave Truitt the opportunity to return to Alabama as the defensive coordinator of a rising program, Truitt jumped at the chance.

"I came down and interviewed during the spring and ended up spending about eight hours down here," he said. "Coach Thornton and I just hit it off real well."

Truitt said Thornton has given him free reign over the defense.

"He’s accepted what I want to do on defense," Truitt said. "That’s nice because not many coaches would let you have such control over the defensive side of the football."

Truitt said another thing he likes about working with Thornton is that the head coach understands the need for his assistants to spend time with their families.

"The last two coaches that I worked under weren’t real family-orientated," Truitt said. "Coach Thornton has a family like I do and knows that we need time during the season to be with them."

Truitt said he has been real impressed with the players he has seen so far in Goshen.

‘I’m really looking forward to getting out there and working with them," he said. "One thing that stands out is the speed we have. I’m used to coaching slower players up-front. This will probably be the most speed I have ever coached."

When former Eagles offensive line coach Trey Baggett came to Goshen, he was blessed to have

a senior group of experienced lineman. Truitt will be working with relative newcomers on the offensive line.

But Truitt said coming in as a new coach and working with

inexperienced players is actually a better situation for everyone.

"Since they are young, most of them haven’t been involved that much in a system," he said. "Coach Baggett was only here a year, so the kids haven’t had time to get settled in. Now if I want to come in and change some things, it isn’t such a shock to them."

Truitt said on defense he will go with the 4-4 system the Eagles used last season, which features four down lineman and four linebackers.

"I’m going to add a few new wrinkles to it where we can utilize the personnel that we have on the field effectively," he said.

Truitt said he has always been interested in coaching

football, even as a player.

"I like the ‘chess game’," he said. "I like the strategy involved where we try to figure out what the opposing team is going to do and then move our players around to stop them."