High School Football
New coordinators fitting right in on Pardue’s staff at East Coweta
by Doug Gorman
The new faces around East Coweta football program only start with incoming head coach Steve Pardue.
The veteran high school head coach, who kept LaGrange as a state power for 18 seasons and posted a 161-45 record and state titles in 2001, 2003 and 2004, returns to the varsity level after serving as running backs coach during Joker Phillips’ tenure at Kentucky.
And it didn’t take Pardue long to figure out who he wanted to join him on staff.
Offensive coordinator David Pleasants and defensive coordinator Rusty Easom were among Pardue’s first hires when he became the Indians’ head coach, only the third for the program over the last 26 seasons.
The Indians’ two new top assistants bring with them plenty of experience, success and enthusiasm to the program, which opens the 2014 season at home on Aug. 29 against Arabia Mountain.
Pleasants and Pardue certainly aren’t strangers having worked together for 13 years, first as assistants at LaGrange and then again when Pardue became head coach of the Grangers.
“He is fun to work with,” Pleasants said. “He does a great job allowing his coaches to coach their positions and then having input too. He does a great job on Friday nights putting the kids in the right positions to win.”
Easom, meanwhile, arrives after 10 years at Griffin including last year’s run to a Class AAAAA championship. The Senoia resident didn’t hesitate about joining the staff when the job became available.
“Coach Pardue has been a part of some really good teams at LaGrange and I am excited to be on this staff here at East Coweta. This is a place where I always wanted to be,” Easom said. “I was just waiting for the right moment. When Coach Pardue got here, it all fell into place. He is somebody that you can learn from and enjoy working for.”
Pardue is the second former coach from LaGrange High to take a job at East Coweta. Danny Cronic spent three seasons with the Grangers program, reaching a Class AAAA state final in 1983 before being hired at Cherokee County.
“I know a lot about East Coweta’s football history,” Pleasants said. “I almost came here and worked with Danny before I went back to LaGrange. I know what East Coweta football is all about and its history. It can be an elite program in the state.”
One of Pleasants’ first objectives as the offensive coordinator is finding a quarterback to replace Bryce Gemmel, last year’s Newnan Times-Herald Offensive Player of the Year, to run a multiple attack based out of the wing-T.
“What we are going to try and do is get in a formation that gives us an advantage. We are going to be run oriented first, and then we will throw the ball. We are not a traditional Wing-T,” he said. “We will be in empty set and spread sets, one-back sets, two back sets and even two tight end sets. We are going to use whatever formation we think will give us an advantage over the defense. It is all within the package that we do.”
Will LaGuardia, last year’s back up. is the only returning player at quarterback with varsity snaps and a frontrunner to step into a starting role.
“Our quarterbacks are doing a good job picking up the offense. With what we are going to do on offense, they can handle it,” Pleasants said. “They are going to continue to get better.” They have made tremendous strides since spring. How they go is how we will go. If they are on, we are going to be really good.”
Senior E.J. Ransom led East Coweta with 38 receptions last year, including two for touchdowns, and provides a skilled receiver along with Jacob Bergstrom as capable targets.
Defensively, the Indians also expect to use multiple formations.
“I have spent the last seven years as a coordinator trying to move things around and making it easy for kids to understand,” Easom said. “We are going to do the same thing here.”
Griffin’s defense shut out five opponents en route to last year’s state championship
“As far as being here now, I couldn’t ask for a better situation,” Easom said. “It has been a phenomenal summer. The kids work hard, and now it is just a matter of getting the kids to understand some what we are trying to do. The effort here is tremendous They come here every day and they give you all they got.”