Holly ‘impressed’ with team’s progress

Published 1:53 pm Thursday, August 2, 2012

New Blue Devils head coach Lev Holly prepares to lead ECHS into a new season.

If the excitement in new Escambia County High School football head coach Lev Holly’s voice is any indication of how the 2012 season will go for the Blue Devils, fans are in for a treat.

“Everything is going very well and I have been very impressed,” Holly said of his inaugural 2012 squad. “The kids are working their tails off and we are starting to get consistency at what we are doing. There is a great understanding of what we are doing system-wise, defensive-wise, offensive-wise and special teams-wise. We have gotten a lot stronger. We are beginning to see a lot of leadership characteristics come out of a lot of guys and we are beginning to see a lot of the younger guys stepping up.”

Holly said to be successful in the game of football, you have to be consistent and you have to have a work ethic and those are some of the things he and his staff have been working on.

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“We have to do those things right,” Holly said. “It is not so much of making sacrifices, but making commitments. That is pretty much it. I am happy and excited and ready to get going here Monday.”

Monday is the first official date of practice for high school teams across the state and Holly says they pretty much have the schedule lined out for what they will be doing those days once practice starts.

“We basically gave the kids off this past week,” Holly said. “We worked them on Tuesday and gave them off the rest of the week minus having picture day on Thursday. For the most part, we as coaches feel like we are ahead of schedule. Right now, we are about three to four weeks ahead of schedule.”

During the summer, Holly and the Blue Devils worked out Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays in June and continued workouts on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in July.

“We went from three days in June to four days in July,” he said. “We worked out every week minus the dead week for the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) all-star week. We are in pretty good shape right now as far as our conditioning is concerned. With our offense being an up tempo offense and needing to stretch the field, we fill pretty good about what we have going on right now.”

One of the main things Holly said he is trying to do going into the fall practice and during fall practice is to be consistent.

“We want to do things right and be mistake free,” he said. “We want to go out and execute every football game. As always, you want to go out and win the region and go on and not so much make the playoffs, but make the playoffs and win it. All that starts with doing things right.”

Holly said he told his kids the team that is going to be on top in December is the team that is going to be disciplined and have a high commitment level.

“Those teams are going to do things right,” he said. ‘They are going to be successful and they are going to work hard and they are going to be there. They are going to believe in what they do and they are going to establish an identity. That is one thing as a team we have been working on. I have been very impressed with the numbers we have had all summer. We have been putting the work in and getting it done, so I think we are going to be successful.”

As for Holly’s coaching staff this fall, it will see some old faces with some new ones joining the Blue Devil staff.

“We kept coach (Daryl) Outwell and coach (Karl) Smith,” Holly said. “We ended up bringing in Gavin King, Howard Ballard and Lee Smith that was at the middle school. Coach Lee Smith is going to be our defensive coordinator. We still have coach Raymond Robinson. Coach Ballard will be our offensive line guy. Right now we have about eight coaches. We also have coach (Joey) Quimby. So far everything is working out. We have great chemistry. We are showing that cohesiveness and I feel like it will transfer over. I have been very impressed.”
While his staff has seen some new faces, there have been some new faces around the Blue Devil camp this summer as well as Holly said he has had a lot of people come in to  talk to the team and staff.

“We had Dothan come down and look at our system and see what we were doing,” he said. “We have had Sen’Derrick Marks from the Tennessee Titans (and former Auburn Tiger and Vigor Wolves player) come workout with us. We had a coach with the University of Alabama come down and we did a team camp at the University of South Alabama (USA). I am good friends with coach (USA assistant coach Bill) Clark there and we have implemented a lot of his stuff into what we do also. We have had a great summer and have done some great learning. I have been on the phone constantly talking to colleges. The game changes everyday and we want to be able to adapt to it. For the most part, I feel good going in. The work is just now starting. Everyone looks good in shorts. We will find out once we get going, but I feel good about it.”

While Holly and the team will be playing on the football field this season, Holly said the team wants to excel more off the field.

“I thank everyone for the support,” Holly said. “If there is anything we can do as for as an athletic department, we will do it because it is all about those kids. We want to take them to the next level and make them upstanding citizens. We are going to be an academic-driven school.We are going to try our best to do it and give the kids that foundation that they need and at the end of the day, we are going to make them outstanding citizens. We are all onboard with that. I can’t thank the community and the fans for all they have done for us. They have given us great support. Also, I want to thank (superintendent) Mr. (Randall) Little and everyone that has worked with me to give me this opportunity. I want to make the best out of it. Everyone has come out and did their part and I think it is going to be a great thing.”

Holly and the 2012 Blue Devils of Escambia County will open up their inaugural 2012 regular season under their first-year head coach Friday, Aug. 31 in a rivalry game against T.R. Miller in Atmore at Herbert Barnes Stadium.

Escambia County will be in a region this season with Clarke County, Wilcox-Central, UMS-Wright, Thomasville, Monroe County, Hillcrest and Andalusia.

The Blue Devils are scheduled to debut the 2012 football team beginning on Friday, Aug. 24 with a jamboree game on the road at Saraland High School a week prior to the season opener with Miller.

The rest of the ECHS schedule for 2012 is as follows:
• Sept. 7, at Clarke County
• Sept. 14, Wilcox-Central
• Sept. 21, at UMS- Wright
• Sept. 28, Faith Academy
• Oct. 5, at Thomasville
• Oct. 12, Monroe County (Homecoming)
• Oct. 19, at Hillcrest-Evergreen
• Oct. 26, Andalusia (Senior Night)
• Nov. 2, at Baldwin County