As important as summer workouts are for any high school football program leading into the beginning of preseason camps for another season, it is perhaps moreso for programs with coaching changes during the previous offseason.
However, Shiloh’s Tino Ierulli had an added dilemma after accepting the Generals’ head coaching job in February.
Though he was able to make it up to the Snellville school from his former job at Palm Beach Central High School in Wellington, Fla., in plenty of time for offseason weightlifting and spring practice, some very important members of his newly-hired coaching staff were not.
As a result, Ierulli and those staff members, and the players, have spent a good deal of time this summer trying to make up for some lost time.
“We had no choice but to play catch up,” Ierulli said. “Right now, we’re just continuing our workouts, … our 7-on-7s and stuff like that until July 25, when we can kick camp off.”
As much as a setback as having to wait for some coaches like offensive line coach Travonta Burgess and offensive coordinator and assistant head coach Adam Miller to arrive from their previous jobs at Douglas County High School and Albany State University respectively was, they have been able to more than just get back on track this summer.
For one thing, the abundance of young and athletic players returning at several different position groups from last year’s squad and eager to work and learn more has helped immensely.
Veterans like Division I college prospects Wake Forest-committed defensive end Jasheen Davis and receiver Dakota Thomas, plus returning starting quarterback Vince Goffney and linebacker/running back Isaac Dowling have stepped up their leadership and assured that their position groups have been quick studies of the new systems Ierulli and his staff are implementing.
More importantly, it has allowed the staff to give the proper attention to other areas, like the offensive line and interior defensive line and make progress a lot quicker than expected.
“I hired an offensive line coach (Burgess) who has done a tremendous job already since the summer,” Ierulli said. “Honestly, it’s about the blocking scheme. We have a lot of size this year, and we’re blessed to have a lot of young guys who are competitive and are going to be playing.
“In the spring, (Burgess) wasn’t even here. He had to finish out his contract (at Douglas County). We did what we could in the short amount of time, but I can (already) notice a difference just in summer workouts and how the kids are responding to him. They love him already — him and the offensive coordinator and assistant head coach I hired (Miller), who came from Albany State. The blocking schemes that they’ve implemented are going to be great for what we have.”
The results on the field beginning with Shiloh’s 2019 opener Aug. 23 against Duluth at Shiloh Community Stadium remain to be seen, but Ierulli has liked what he’s seen already, particularly from the Generals’ spring scrimmage against Lassiter in May.
While it is a very small sample size, that spring game has given the new coach a very early indication that the tone around a Shiloh program that has managed just one non-losing season since 2003 is changing for the better even quicker than he imagined.
“We’re blessed with a lot of youth and athleticism,” Ierulli said “The one thing I was very happy to see since I’ve been here since February is that the culture change is already happening. Our spring game (against Lassiter), we were down 10-8 at halftime, and the boys never gave up. They were facing a lot of adversity and they came right back and won it 34-13. That showed a lot. My (athletics director) and some of the other administrators said that last year’s team would’ve bowed their heads. But I’ve never seen that since I’ve been with these kids. They have a tremendous work ethic. They’re eager to get after it. They want to win and (have a lot of success) for Shiloh.”