Meadowcreek’s Ryan Moore (4)
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Before getting into offense and defense, when it comes to Meadowcreek, it starts with finding the progress.
It was a shaky offseason at the Norcross school with the sudden resignation of head coach Deario Grimmage in July after three seasons of leading the Mustangs. Not that things aren’t often shaky at Meadowcreek, which has rolled through a long list of head coaches over the past decade.
Enter George Pugh, back for his second stint as the head man at Meadowcreek, coaching the Mustangs in 2003 and 2004.
Pugh was noncommittal about a long tenure at Meadowcreek, but has hustled to put together a staff in his limited time.
“I am here for the moment, I am here now. That is what’s important,” Pugh said. “What happens in the future, I don’t know. I don’t try to predict the future any more. I’ve gotten a little wiser.”
Pugh’s first move was rebuilding the coaching staff, by the start of school he had seven of his nine assistant coaches teaching in the building. A big step for a staff that once had just one coach teaching in the high school.
“That is progress,” Pugh said. “That’s what we want to do here. We want to take each day, make progress and a step every day. I think this is a process. It’s not going to be fixed overnight. I am excited about it.”
Pugh knows it sounds absurd, but the returning head coach insists there are talented players on his short roster.
“As I look around this football team there are at least 10 division I prospects out there,” said Pugh, a former recruiting coordinator at Georgia State. “We’ll be able to compete with anybody for two quarters. But the game isn’t played in just two quarters.”
Included on that list is receiver Laquan Johnson, receiver turned quarterback Kortez Towels, running back Ryan Moore (pictured) and a versatile athlete in Ladarius Pope.
“I use him everywhere,” Pugh said of Pope. “He is one that can do so many things well.”
For big guys there is junior lineman Oliver Niyungeko and a transfer from Alabama in 6-foot-5, 265 lineman Marcus Bailey.
“He runs like a deer,” Pugh said.
But with numbers in the mid 50s to start preseason practice the depth, as always, is one of the biggest challenges for the Mustangs.
“We have to be creative in our practice,” Pugh said.
What is success?
For a team without a win since 2008 the measuring stick for what qualifies as improvement comes with different marks.
From Pugh’s perspective it’s already begun.
“I don’t measure success with how many games I win or how many games I lose,” Pugh said. “I measure success with helping others get where they want to get in life, now that’s success.”
Building on the early steps is the next challenge for Pugh and his goal remains the same as his predecessors: To alter the attitude of the players.
“That’s the thing we have to get done here at Meadowcreek High School, football has got to become important to the players that play,” Pugh said. “It’s time we put the emphasis on where it should be. Pride alone won’t win a football game. The biggest thing is there has to be a commitment and once you get that commitment, the rest will take care of itself.”
Pugh doesn’t come to this job, for the second time, ignorant of the level of work it requires. Changing attitudes, hiring coaches, growing the total numbers all sound easier than they are done. But Pugh wants to try.
“It’s important to me. I love challenges. Meadowcreek is different. It’s very intriguing to say the least. I just love, all of my life I’ve always been an underdog,” Pugh said. “One thing my mom and grandmother always told me was, ‘Son, prove them wrong.’ I chose Meadowcreek mainly for the fact that the idea to prove someone wrong, that’s challenging. No one thinks it can get done here at Meadowcreek. We are the only ones who really believe.”