New Pebblebrook coach Leroy Hood is working on getting comfortable in his post.
Meanwhile, the players are trying to get comfortable with him.
Like everything, it is a process.
“Coming from south Georgia to Cobb County, it’s quite a difference,” said Hood, who spent the last two seasons as the coach at Turner County High School in Ashburn. “It’s been 100 miles per hour since I got here.”
Throughout spring practice and now heading into summer ball, Hood has been focused on implementing his culture as well as building rapport with his players.
“Establishing an identity and for me, getting those guys to trust in the system and buy into me and the coaching staff,” Hood said. “That’s not just as the high school level, but at the middle school as well. I can say that, since spring ball started, we’ve definitely gotten better. With those nine practices, we got better on the field, and we got better just as a team, the bonding part of it and the chemistry as the coaching staff.”
Hood took over for former Pebblebrook coach Kevin Saunders, who had led the team to three straight playoff appearances before resigning to take the coaching job at Gilmer.
Coming off a 7-4 season in 2017, the Falcons had two goals in 2018 — win Region 2AAAAAAA and win a playoff game. They went 2-3 in region play to earn the No. 4 seed, then lost to Hillgrove 21-7 in the first round of the state playoffs.
Though Pebblebrook is coming off a four-win season overall, Hood sees potential in several of the pieces he has.
“I saw some good things, and there are some individual players that stood out during the spring,” he said. “I’ve got to see what some of those guys do in the summer and then, eventually, as we begin the regular season.”
One of the returning talents Hood has high expectations for is rising senior quarterback Jaquavious Jones, who did just about everything for the Falcons’ offense in 2018. Jones threw for more than 900 yards and six touchdowns, while rushing for a team-leading 706 yards and nine touchdowns.
Pebblebrook also returns two senior skill players who totaled nearly 800 yards combined in running back Marveon Boyd and wide receiver Sincere Street. Boyd had 483 total yards and six touchdowns, while Street hauled in 19 catches for 296 yards and two touchdowns.
“Jaquavious Jones, returning at quarterback, has shown some good things,” Hood said. “Made a few mistakes as well, but he’s going to be able to make plays when things are not there.”
Jones will have to make those plays behind an inexperienced offensive line that lost all five starters to graduation. Rising senior tackle Jasper Peacock is expected to fill some of the holes left on the offensive line.
On the defensive side of the ball, Hood is looking forward to the continued success of two seniors on defense.
“We have a returning starter in Ketavious Foreman who had a pretty good game and did some things,” Hood said. “Quincey Miller has been the most consistent from last year to now. He looks good.”
Miller, a rising senior defensive lineman, led Cobb County in tackles with 148 total tackles and also finished with 12.5 sacks in 2018. Foreman, a linebacker, finished with 88 total tackles for the Falcons.
Hood has worked his players in practices and in workouts and has already seen improvement that he hopes will just continue to grow as the season gets closer.
“I want to enjoy this process, and if it keeps going the way its been going and the way we expect it to go, I only feel like those Friday nights are going to be pay-day,” Hood said.