Dawson Heck throws a pass under pressure during Etowah’s spring practice.

Things have had a different feel around Etowah, as the football team began spring practices last week.

In addition to new players, the Eagles are also preparing for a season that will feature three new assistant coaches.

“I’ve been really pleased with the effort of our kids,” coach Dave Svehla said. “We have three new coaches on staff, including a brand-new defensive coordinator. They’re learning new things on both sides of the ball. They’ve been zoned in. I’ve liked their attentiveness and effort, and I think they’re having fun.”

New defensive coordinator Dan Devine is still at Alpharetta, where he is finishing out the year as athletic director, but Etowah is not wasting time installing its new defensive scheme.

“We’ve been working hard on scheme,” Svhela said. “(Devine) met with our coaches a lot before practice to decide what kinds of players he wants at certain positions. We’ve been looking at the players we have on the roster and seeing who can fit those roles. We’ve just jumped in. We’re still moving kids around looking for the best fits.”

Linebacker Lane Cantrell has emerged as a leader on the defense after a strong sophomore campaign.

Running back Nick Maddox and receiver Jackson Manns have been early leaders of the offense, but after a season filled with lineup changes, Svehla said most positions are still wide-open.

“Everything is tight,” he said. “It’s not my goal to split time. I think most coaches prefer one guy establish himself, but, if that doesn’t happen, you have to work to find those guys. Kids are battling and competing, but we have two kids still playing baseball and three still playing lacrosse. We’re excited for those kids to do what they’re doing now, but they’ll also be in the mix when they come available.”

With new players stepping in offensively and a new scheme on defense, Svehla said he is keeping things simple in the spring. The Eagles are set to cap the spring with a scrimmage against Sprayberry, and while Svehla said the bulk of improvement will come in the summer, he hopes to see a solid base developed in the coming week.

“You just want to make sure kids can get lined up and know their assignment,” Svehla said. “Things are new and we’ll see stuff from Sprayberry that’s different than anything we do. If we can get lined up properly, they understand the philosophy of the defense. For me, those are tops on the list. We may not be great at executing those assignments, because we’re limited on time, but that will come.”

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