ATLANTA — When a new head football coach arrives at a high school he usually tries to provide a virtual snapshot of the type of team he envisions. The coach can either tell them or show them. New Therrell Panthers coach Greg Sullivan chose to do both.
“The kids want to work,” says Sullivan. “They just need someone to lead them in the right direction and show them the way.”
Sullivan established an offseason conditioning program, and now they can’t wait to hit the weight room. The team also did some traveling for 7-on-7 tournaments, getting an up close look at some of the state’s most successful teams.
“At Cam Newton’s 7-on-7 we saw Grayson and everybody was talking about their players and what college they were going to attend,” said Sullivan. The Panthers faced teams from North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida. “Our guys got to see where we are right now and how much work we will have to do to get to that point.”
One thing the new coach has going for him is a quarterback who loves to lead.
“Andre Martin is actually one of my hardest workers,” says Sullivan. “In the weight room, conditioning and now he is becoming more vocal, leading the younger players.”
A native of Columbus, Sullivan was a four-year starter at Savannah State and credits his college position coach, Steven Wilkes, who is now defensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers, with making a big impression on him.
“He opened my eyes to so many things and that’s what made me want to get into coaching,” said Sullivan.
Effort was key for Wilkes and effort is a must for a team coached by Greg Sullivan.
“Lift that bar up real high,” says Sullivan. “Then strive for it and if you get it great, but if you don’t I can live with the effort that you’re giving me.”
Last year’s 4-6 record reflected the most wins in a season at Therrell since 2002. It was almost good enough to make the postseason, but the Panthers were eliminated from a three-way tie for the final region playoff slot. For the returning players, there will be a sense of unfinished business. Sullivan says a trip to the playoffs in his first season would be the ultimate goal.
Last season, Therrell opened the season with a 41-6 loss to Wesleyan. The Panthers will be thinking revenge when they open the 2017 season with the Wolves on Aug. 18.
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