Pope prepares for step up in competition level
by Adam Carrington
May 28, 2014 04:07 AM | 5299 views | 7 7 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
While Carson Day, left, will still have the protection of Max Kemper next fall, Pope will have to find an answer for its defense as it enters a talent-filled Region 5AAAAAA.
<BR>Staff photo by Jeff Stanton
While Carson Day, left, will still have the protection of Max Kemper next fall, Pope will have to find an answer for its defense as it enters a talent-filled Region 5AAAAAA.
Staff photo by Jeff Stanton
From a football standpoint, there were concerns when it was announced that Pope would be moving up to the Georgia High School Association’s highest classification.

Under normal circumstances, the Greyhounds would embrace the challenge of going against the likes of Walton, Lassiter, Wheeler, Etowah and Milton when they begin playing in Region 5AAAAAA in the fall.

Pope seemed on track to make the playoffs a fourth straight season this time last year, but several skill players on both sides of the ball didn’t return to the team, and the Greyhounds were forced to rebuild. That led to a 3-7 record, and Pope has no choice but to build upon last season by playing teams with larger rosters.

Pope immediately found success after moving down a classification in 2010, going to the playoffs for three straight seasons and winning a region title in 2011.

In an attempt to move forward, it was business as usual when players reported to spring practice earlier this month.

“School-wide, there were uncertainties about us going back to the larger classification and playing strong programs,” Pope coach Matt Kemper said. “But the kids didn’t worry about that. They took care of business, and that’s to get better every day. They just wanted to get back on the field, play ball and practice.”

Pope will at least benefit from the experienced offensive line that also helped carry the team a year ago. This year’s line will be more experienced behind Kemper’s twin sons, Max and Mike Kemper, who are rising seniors. Matthew Pittarelli and Matthew Jones are also returning to strengthen the Greyhounds’ front line.

Also working in Pope’s advantage offensively is seven returning starters from last year, but the Greyhounds are still trying to find the right combination to play behind their stout offensive line.

Taylor Wolf is returning as the starting quarterback after securing the position last season. Carson Day is coming off a strong spring expecting to be one of Pope’s top receivers, and Bryan Terry is leading a group of young tailbacks all fighting for playing time.

But to keep up with its new region opponents, Pope will have to make defensive improvements. The Greyhounds gave up an average of 40.6 points per game last season, allowing four of their opponents to score 50 points or more.

Kemper said he made tweaks during spring practice, and the defense is now playing more of a “gap control kind of system.” Kemper want his players to stuff the box and force opponents to throw the ball more often.

“No matter if it’s high school, college or NFL, you’ve got to be able to stop the run,” Kemper said. “I think we will be more sound that way.”

Kyle Woyce is returning at linebacker after making strides at the tail end of last season, but Pope’s experience lies in the secondary. Defensive back Brayden Zarbinsky and Taylor Waddilove impressed during spring drills, while Logan Cooperman and Keegan Phipps add depth and experience to the defensive backfield.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
June 01, 2014
So coaches aren't able to pursue other job opportunities?! They are to continue working for peanuts, as well as parents who are elitists and snobs and undermining you at every turn? How come men and women in other fields are allowed to seek out jobs for better pay and BENEFITS and retirement, yet Coach Kemper should stay there and suffer.

News flash: he most likely wants to leave because Pope is about to get steamrolled in football. Pope has less then 1,900 students and they'll be competing with schools with 2,800 or more. Of course the bratty and un-supportive parents will blame him and his staff instead of seeing the cold hard facts, and that is that you just can't compete with the program is so much smaller then others.
Let's be honest
June 04, 2014
Of course this coach and any other are and should be free to pursue other opportunities for whatever the reason.

Your news flash is only partially accurate. Yes, the reclass will hurt Pope at football especially. That does nothing to explain last years season that was played in one of the weakest 5A regions where class sizes were all similar.

Truth Flash - last year exposed just how inept and incompetent this coach and his staff are. Player positioning, offensive and defensive schemes, player defections, failure to recruit players within the school, etc. were all part of the problem. Any one in the know, knows how correct this is. Oh yah, before you mention that he had good seasons before that at Pope, let me just say that he inherited a good crop of kids, accustomed to winning, when he got here. Last year was the product of his handiwork. Good luck to whoever employs him in the future - they're gonna need it.
Yellow Jacket Guy
May 30, 2014
Samantha, you should support Coach Kemper because he is a good man that loves kids and works his tail off for the program and the school. You can't fault a guy that works hard at his job but also understands that family is more important and if he can improve the quality of life for his family he should. Pope is a good place with good people, but its far from an ideal coaching situation.
No Thanks
May 30, 2014
Don't let the door hit you and him on the way out. There are coaches out there who would love to be a head coach at Pope HS. If he is unhappy here he should quit and work on his resume.

Dr. Downs are you listening?
Just Can't Support
May 31, 2014
Good man doesn't equal good coach. Would be surprised if this guy ever puts together a winner after his hands are on a program for any period of time. Inherited a winning culture at Pope, albeit not a state championship contender, and just ruined it. His plan all along has been to bolt after his boys move on. Used platform to showcase them. Really a shame for those caught up in this sham.
Samantha Bee
May 28, 2014
I am disappointed to hear of all the places Coach Kemper applied to this off season. It's hard to support a coach who doesn't want to be at Pope.
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