Staff Photo: Jason Braverman Shiloh head football coach Troy Hobbs addresses his players during the Generals' spring game last month. Hobbs, who recently took over the football program, hopes to bring a winning tradition both on and off the field.
A couple of weeks ago, someone asked Troy Hobbs a simple question.
Why would you leave North Gwinnett, one of the state's top football programs for Shiloh, a team that hasn't had a winning season in eight years?
His response was simple: Why not?
"I'm just focused on these kids and doing what's right for them," Hobbs said.
Hobbs hasn't made any promises about winning a certain amount of games or making the playoffs. The new Shiloh head coach just wants to instill a workmanlike mentality with his players.
"We're trying to out work everybody right now," he said.
Hobbs, 41, was hired two weeks ago as Shiloh's head coach, replacing Brian Montgomery. Montgomery resigned in April after an investigation into recruitment violations. Montgomery was 2-8 in his only season as the Generals' head coach.
The week Hobbs was hired was the final week of spring practice allowed by the Georgia High School Association. Shiloh was granted permission by the GHSA to hold spring practice the week of finals, but only if they finished by 6 p.m. Hobbs and his staff of five had to act quick. They had to install a new offense and defense, similar to what North Gwinnett has run, in just four days.
"It was vital to what we're trying to do as a staff and change the mindset," Hobbs said. "The kids did a great job adjusting to how we practiced."
That first day of practice, not a single person was late. They were all eager to put on the pads and practice.
"That first day of practice, it was rewarding," Hobbs said. "They were getting to do what they liked to do and play football. They had a good time. They got to let some frustration out and get back to work."
Shiloh held a spring scrimmage on its fourth day of practice. It wasn't anything too flashy, just a base offense working against a base defense. But Hobbs liked the enthusiasm from his players.
"It was really, really needed," Hobbs said. "They didn't know if they were going to get a coach. The school knew. They did a great job and had a timeline."
The resignation of Montgomery continued the revolving door of head coaches at Shiloh. Since longtime coach Charlie Jordan retired after the 1998 season, Shiloh has had seven head coaches including Hobbs. None have lasted more than three years. It's a trend Hobbs plans to end.
He spent six years at North and prior to that was a coach in Kentucky for 10 years, so he's not one to move around very often. Hobbs was the wide receiver and special teams coordinator at North. The Bulldogs were 67-11 and won more than 10 games every year, including the last three Region 7-AAAAA titles.
It's a stark contrast to Shiloh, which hasn't had a winning season since 2003, when it last made the playoffs. It's a trend Hobbs wants to change, but he hasn't put a timetable on the success. He's starting slowly with subtle changes, like not allowing hats or earrings in the building. It's part of the culture he's trying to change with the team.
"I just keeping saying to myself 'How can we get better?'" Hobbs said.
Hobbs plans to hire an offensive and defensive coordinator, so he can oversee the entire program as a whole. He's already added Michael Nash, a Shiloh grad and former player and assistant at Shiloh and North to the staff.
Despite the late spring practice and all the spring turmoil, Shiloh still had more than 65 players out for spring practice.
Shiloh will participate in 7-on-7 passing tournaments hosted by McEachern and North Gwinnett this summer in addition to the Gwinnett Passing League.
It won't be long before the Generals open the season Aug. 31 at Meadowcreek.
"We can't take days off. We're two months behind everybody," Hobbs said.
"I'm just trying to mold the kids and get them to believe in each other."