New Archer head football coach Andy Dyer and Mountain View head coach Tim Hardy have plenty in common as they start new programs, including a nomadic existence the past few months.

Dyer held Archer's recent spring practices on a field at McConnell Middle School, bringing a caravan with him each day.

"We're a traveling football team right now," said Dyer, an assistant the previous five years at Mill Creek. "Right now I hitch up a trailer to my truck to carry dummies, cones and footballs in."

Hardy, a young coach like Dyer, also knows the feeling, although his travel is on a much larger scale. Previously an assistant at Wheaton College outside Chicago, he has made four round trips this spring from Illinois down to Georgia.

He officially moved to Gwinnett last weekend, relocating for good with his wife and their three children, all under the age of 7. He's just happy to settle down.

"I spent four weeks (in Georgia), going back and forth," Hardy said. "I drove some and flew some."

That required plenty of effort, but the work is just starting for Dyer and Hardy. They got a feel for their inaugural group of players at their recent spring practices, but it was tough for either coach to tell much since they didn't train in full pads.

But the feeling both coaches got was excitement, a sort of energy that comes from starting something new.

Dyer said he expected around 50 to 60 players at spring practice, but the Tigers averaged 82 to 85. As expected, the group was laden with underclassmen.

"We actually accomplished a lot as far as putting in offense and defense, and letting them hear the lingo for the first time," said Dyer, whose school will draw students from Grayson, Dacula and Central Gwinnett.

The atmosphere was similar for Mountain View, which gathered its football players for practices at Rabbit Hill Park. The group averaged right around 80 players, also dominated by freshmen and sophomores.

Those students were previously in the districts of Dacula, Mill Creek and Collins Hill.

"We did not get into any schemes, we didn't talk about our offense or defense," Hardy said. "No coaches out there knew any of the players, so it was a total level playing field. Nobody had the inside track on anything.

"We didn't want to say, 'You three are the running backs, you three are the receivers.' It was not everybody doing everything, but it sort of was. We wanted to see what kids could do and create an environment where they could compete."

The process continues with summer workouts leading up to the debut season for both teams. Both schedules feature a combination of varsity and junior varsity games - Archer is playing Region 8-AAAAA JV teams and Mountain View is playing 7-AAAAA JV squads.

The marquee games will be the two head-to-head meetings between Archer and Mountain View. They play each other in the season finale, but also in the season opener Aug. 28 at Archer.

"It will be a lot of fun (to play Archer)," Hardy said. "I've talked to Andy a number of times and we're living parallel lives. And I like that it's our first game and our last game of the season against them. We get to see how far we've come."

SideBar: NEW PROGRAMS

A quick glance at the football programs at Archer and Mountain View, Gwinnett's two new high schools opening in August:

Archer

Mascot: Tigers

Head coach: Andy Dyer

Region: Non-region football schedule

Mountain View

Mascot: Bears

Head coach: Tim Hardy

Region: Non-region football schedule

Date to remember: Aug. 28, when the two schools play their first football game against the other. The game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Archer.