Stephenson up to the challenge as new coach of Bulldogs

Published 10:45 pm Tuesday, August 11, 2009

In Brundidge, expectations are always high concerning Pike County High School football.

Even with a new head coach in Eddie Stephenson, this year appears to be no different.

However, with high expectations comes a high level of pressure, something Stephenson said he does not allow to affect him.

“I could be anywhere and I would put pressure on myself to be the best I could be there,” Stephenson said. “I think our staff fells the same way. Pike County has a winning tradition, and that’s what attracted me to the job. When you get two like-minded entities in a guy like me who wants to win and a program that wants to win, I don’t think it’s pressure.”

Stephenson said the program is heading in the right direction, despite a disappointing 5-5 season in 2008 and a first-round playoff loss.

“I think we’re all pushing the right direction,” Stephenson said. “I think we all know that’s what we want to do. I’m unhappy if we lose. People are unhappy if we lose. I don’t feel any pressure from anybody else.”

The record isn’t the only thing that Stephenson plans on changing from last year’s team.

Both the offensive and defensive schemes will change under Stephenson’s watch.

“We’re definitely a different football team than we were last year,” Stephenson said. “From a scheme point of view, we’re multiple on defense and on offense, we’re a running attack. We’re going to run the football and do some things out of multiple formations with multiple ball carriers. We’re going to do a little bit of everything when it comes to getting the ball to certain folks. We’ll do that through motion, the short passing game and the downfield passing game.”

Stephenson said the ability to do things out of different formations would make the Bulldogs a tough team to face.

“What we’re working on is to be multiple on both sides of the ball,” Stephenson said. “That gave us success in the past. We’re hard to prepare for. From this year to last year I think you’ll see that scheme-wise we’ll be different. As far as how we approach games, I wasn’t on that staff, so I’m not sure how they got things done there. I know they didn’t have the year they wanted to have, so we’re trying to avoid that.”

While expectations may be at their usual high level, Stephenson said the coaching staff and team has tried to focus on getting better in their new schemes, rather than worrying about their competition.

“We’ve really focused on ourselves,” Stephenson said. “From our point of view, I would say we’re right where we want to be. As opposed to what’s in the region and what we have to play against, we really haven’t focused ourselves on that. There’s no way to say whether we’re going be 8-2 or 10-0 or anything like that. But I can tell you that having to pick up a complex system and to be able to get to where they are at this point, I’m really pleased with them.”

Even though the team is not concerning itself with the teams it will face, Stephenson said he is confident that Pike County will have success this season.

“I think we’re going to go out there and win and I’m firmly convinced that we are,” Stephenson said. “I think you put pressure on yourself when you think you might lose and when you think about what could happen if you lose. We don’t think about losing. It’s going to happen, we understand, but we’re focused on winning.”