I caught with The John Cooper School’s new head football coach, Erik DeHaven, after Thursday’s spring practice.
Tony: First year at John Cooper. What’s your impression after three days of spring practice.
Coach DeHaven: I’m loving what I’m seeing. I’m very impressed with how quickly our young men pick everything up, especially our new offense. That’s made it fun for our coaches obviously and our players are having fun with it.
Tony: You coached in the XFL previously, so you went from coaching Ducks to coaching Dragons. Tell me a little about the experience coaching the players in the XFL.
Coach DeHaven: Honestly it was exciting. Obviously I got to practice new crafts in my coaching style and techniques I used with older players and here it’s a lot different. I get to coach 6th graders, 7th graders, 8th graders, through high school. Patience is a big thing, at the same time having a lot of excitement. At the older levels they know how to play with the excitement, at the younger levels we get to be the excited ones.
Tony: I noticed in today’s practice you spent just as much time with the middle school kids as with the high school kids.
Coach DeHaven: They are our future. The biggest thing that I want our players to understand it that no matter what level we are at, we are a family. Something we are installing here is a Big Brother program – matching those younger players with the older players trying to create that cohesive unit.
Tony: I know in the past participation has been concern. What are you doing to address participation numbers?
Coach DeHaven: One of the big things is that when they come out here making sure they have fun. I talk to the players all the time that they are our best recruiters. When they come out and actually have fun playing the game of football, they are talking about it in the classroom, and things of that nature, and their buddies are coming out. That’s one of the things I’m excited about is just the growth of the program and how the kids came out for spring ball. I didn’t know what to expect. I was expecting 20 kids out here. The first days when we had, middle school through high school, 80 something players, that’s exciting for me.
Tony: You still have a battle going for the quarterback postion.
Coach DeHaven: One of the great things is the competition. We actually have young men battling it out for the position. We are trying to give them equal quality reps. In 7 on 7 today we had one young man throw more than the others, but hopefully on other days we keep switching those out so that we get a good idea. When we get the pads on, we will actually know at that time who is going to be our quarterback.
Tony: Coming into a program that made the SPC Finals last year, what are you changing scheme-wise on offense and defense?
Coach DeHaven: My coach is the offensive coordinator from St. Pius, Coach Ware. We are going to run a spread offense. It’s a little different than what they have done, more RPO based than what they’ve had in the past. Defensively, Coach Childress, is running the same defense, he’s just kind of putting a little sprinkle of what I want in there, so that we will be a little more aggressive on that side of the football. The biggest job for us is to match our players. We have to identify who our guys are and then once we identify them, get them the rock.