By R. Alan Richardson
Spring practice at Morgan County Middle School ended this past week with about 50 players participating in the one week of workouts. According to first-year Head Coach Aaron Paul the practices were a success, “Practices went extremely well. We have a very smart football team that is also very coachable. Our guys want to work hard and win. The team is also very disciplined at practice and want to compete. We have depth and experience at almost every position. Criston Foster and Jaden Cooper are two returning players on the offense and defensive line, followed by Denver Laughlin and Kobridgette Lumpkin in the backfield. Jeremiah Morgan, Marc Rivera, Noach Brown, Braxton Harris, and Owen Peters are also key returning players. Honestly we have about 15 or 20 returning players that have experience and will be able to help all season long in various positions.”
Paul talked about the emphasis for his players during the spring saying, “Our main goal for the spring was to identify all of the players that came out to practice and see what positions they play and which players could be the most effective for us on the field. We spent most of the week working on fundamentals with each position group (line, catching, running, ball security, tackling, and conditioning).”
The Morgan County football program is 7-12 with the MCMS being part of what the High School coaches and program are teaching the kids at the next level. “We will be working over the summer. The goal of the middle school football program is to be an extension of the high school. Everything the middle school will be doing is mirroring the varsity and JV programs at the high school. We are going to be running the same offense and same defense as the high school, but probably just not as many plays. We plan to use the same language and play calling as the high school to help make the transition between middle school and high school smoother,” said Paul.
The Bulldogs plan on a heavy run emphasis, but hope to keep the play-calling as balanced as possible depending on personnel. The team practiced using mainly an I-formation offensively and plans on running a four or five-man front on defense. The head coach again made these comments, “We really need to spend this summer identifying our linebackers and secondary. This will allow us to adjust and put our players in the best position to stop our opponents and be successful.”
Assistant coaches for the 2016 season will be Alex Cooper, Mike Campbell, Rob Brown, and Harris Warbington. Brown and Campbell are new this year. Paul bragged on his staff, “Every single one of the assistant coaches did a fantastic job during spring practice working with the players. I am extremely blessed to have such an energetic, knowledgeable, and hardworking staff this year.”
Paul served as the assistant head coach at the middle school and coached the offensive and defensive line before moving into his new head coach position. He is also the boys’ varsity soccer coach beginning his third year coaching football and soccer. The political science teacher graduated from the University of Georgia with a double bachelor’s degree in history and social studies as well as a Master’s in social studies. He spent one semester at North Gwinnett High School before coming to Morgan County. He is married to his wife Emily.