New head coach Tommy Parks has been at Upson-Lee for about two months now, and on Thursday he and his Knights took to the field for the first time. Coach Parks had kept some coaches from the old staff and added some new coaches to this upcoming season’s staff.
I recently had the chance to sit down with Coach Parks and asked him about Spring Practice, the Knights, and his new coaching staff.
(McCard)- Even though you have yet to see the team play on the field, with the exception of game film, what was your first impression after meeting the team and getting to know the players?
(Parks)- “I have had a chance to meet most of the guys, and we are still getting to know each other. I can tell you they seem very excited about the upcoming season and they work extremely hard in the weight room. Coaches and players are just ready to get started.”
(McCard)- What do think is the most important thing to accomplish this spring?
(Parks)- “Without a doubt it is continuity. We want continuity among players and among coaches. Any good organization, where it be athletics or a business, or whatever, continuity is the key to success.”
(McCard)- What will fans be able to see is the most noticeable difference from last season to this season?
(Parks)- “We will be wearing black helmets (laughing). No, seriously we just want to be able to get all 11 guys to the football defensively, and offensively we want to cut out the negative plays and control the football.”
(McCard)- You have some new coaches and some here from last season. Tell me about your 2014 coaching staff.
(Parks)- “Coach Wayne Puckett will be coaching our wide receivers this season. He brings a lot of knowledge to the staff. He has been here for 19 years, longer than any other coach and he knows the community and the he knows the kids. His knowledge of the community and players is an important aspect of our team.”
(Parks)- “Coach Christopher Jones returns this season and will coach our corner backs. Coach Jones brings a wealth of knowledge to our team and has been around some really good head coaches in his coaching career. The kids really like Coach Jones on and off the field.”
(Parks)- “Coach Justin Elder returns to the staff as the defensive line coach. Coach Elder is the epitome of a football coach. He played and coached at a powerhouse in Mary Persons, and he has one of the best work ethics of any coach around. We are lucky to be able to have a guy like Coach Elder on our staff.”
(Parks)- “Coach Jeff Wheeless returns to the staff and will be the offensive line coach. Coach Wheeless bleeds black and purple and is an Upson-Lee guy. Anytime you can have a coach on your staff who went to school there and has the football knowledge and knows the kids in the program, it’s a huge plus to a coaching staff.”
(Parks)- “Coach Bryce Robinson comes home to Thomaston and will be the Offensive Coordinator. Coach Robinson has been with me for 10 years. He has also coached here in the past, which is a huge plus for our program. Coach Robinson is one of the most loyal people I have known, and in the coaching world today that says a lot.”
(Parks)- “Coach Cedrick Stegall comes to us from Americus-Sumter High School and will join our coaching staff this season as the Defensive Coordinator. Coach Stegall has been around several programs and he brings a ton of excitement and energy which kids gravitate towards. The kids are going to like playing for him.”
(Parks)- “Coach Matt Mellown comes to us from Adalussia High School in Alabama and he will be our quarterbacks coach. Coach Mellown is a young and energetic guy who brings a lot of excitement to the game of football. The kids will really enjoy playing for him.”
(Parks)- “Coach J.T. Thompson is another young coach that will be on our staff and he will coach the running backs. Coach Thompson has coached for me and played for me at Harris County. He has always had a great rapport with kids and he is another guy who I know the guys will want to play for.”
(Parks)- “Coach T.J. Norman joins our staff this season and he is also an Upson-Lee guy. He will coach the linebackers and brings a lot of energy to the defensive side of the ball. He has coached with me at Harris County and will be another young guy that kids will want to play for.”
The Knights will conclude Spring Practice on May 14, and they will play their annual Spring Football Game on May 15 at Matthews Field.