There's something to be said for young football coaches, their relentless energy and their fresh passion for a kid's game. They grew up in a high-tech age, learning how to coach football with the help of digital video and other software programs that continue to advance with each passing season.
But it's important to mix those youthful coaches in with some veterans, coaches who had that same wide-eyed outlook on high school football 20 or 30 years ago - when game film actually was on film. The technology may have changed with time, but the game of football and the life lessons it teaches hasn't. Kudos to Wesleyan head Franklin Pridgen for remembering that.
"I talked to my offensive coordinator at the end of last year and we both agreed on what we needed," said Pridgen, entering his third year as the Wolves' head coach. "There was nobody on this staff with white hair. We needed someone with salt, someone with that experience."
Pridgen didn't get one someone. He got two of the better coaches and nicest guys around in former Wesleyan head coach Will Jackson and former Collins Hill head coach Larry Sherrill.
Now his once young staff - Pridgen was the second-oldest coach at 38 before hiring Jackson and Sherrill - is suddenly seasoned.
"He's got all these young guys and then he hires two guys who really push up the average age," said the 59-year-old Sherrill.
"We're trying to get an AARP chapter started in the locker room," joked Jackson, who is 65.
All kidding aside - and there has been plenty, made mostly by the two longtime coaches - the Wesleyan coaching staff improved.
Jackson started the Wesleyan program in 1998, serving as head coach until 2004. He has since coached middle school football, varsity and JV baseball and middle school wrestling on a fill-in basis. His extensive assistant coaching background includes state baseball titles at Sequoyah and Wesleyan (this past spring), a state girls basketball title at Sequoyah and a state football championship at Dunwoody in 1993. Sherrill has a long career in Georgia and Arkansas, and had been Collins Hill's head coach the past six seasons. He had other options after the 2007 season, but got a call from Pridgen and immediately was interested. Soon he was the Wolves' running backs coach and special teams coordinator, joining Jackson, who coaches offensive tackles and tight ends. The two give Wesleyan's staff much-needed experience, as well as a good age balance.
"It's a staff with a lot of juice, a lot of energy," Jackson said. "It fools us into thinking we're younger than we are."
Will Hammock can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears on Thursdays.