PINETOPS – The music varies, and in reality it doesn’t really matter what genre is coming from the speakers.
All that matters is that the volume is turned up loud.
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Whether it is country, rock ’n’ roll or rap, the reason for the music coming from the speakers on the SouthWest Edgecombe campus during the final hour of preseason practice is to provide an atmosphere.
After all, fall Friday nights in Pinetops are anything but quiet, and first-year coach Jonathan Cobb doesn’t believe practices should resemble afternoon study hall sessions.
“We try to learn from practice,” Cobb said. “We try to coach like it’s Friday night and get the players to play like it’s Friday night. It has been a very good thing for our young team.”
Cobb said he adopted the practice routine from attending coaching clinics and being a fan of college football, where the successful Oregon Ducks were known for their fast-paced, music-aided practices under former coach Chip Kelly.
Most players dread the final hour of practice under the August heat, but not at SouthWest Edgecombe this season.
The players are split into two teams and “go at it,” Cobb said.
“It’s more college-like this year with the practices,” junior running back/linebacker Barry Smith said. “It’s full-speed, live stuff.”
Cobb has brought subtle differences to the practice field, and while that has been accepted by his players, duplicating and surpassing previous success is the ultimate goal.
Cobb’s father, Raymond, won a pair of state titles in the ’90s at North Edgecombe, and he turned SouthWest Edgecombe into a state title contender in many of his nine years in Pinetops.
There will not be a week when Jonathan Cobb isn’t reminded of his father’s success, and he is completely fine with that fact.
A majority of that talk likely will come from within Cougars followers.
“It’s only natural that I will be Cobb Jr. or coach No. 2, but I have to work really hard and develop quality relationships with players and fans and help kids to give their best,” said Cobb, whose father now will watch games from the coaches’ box. “Over time, hopefully things will work out for the SouthWest community and SouthWest football. I can’t think of any greater honor than following my father.”
Jonathan Cobb, 29, has plenty of talent with which to work this season. Although the team graduated 26 seniors in 2012, it returns a three-year starter at quarterback in Qua Wooten and a backfield that features a handful of capable runners, including junior Devontrell Hyman at fullback.
“He can run around people and run through them,” Cobb said. “I don’t think it will be long before people know his name.”
The biggest X’s and O’s change will come on the defensive side of the ball, where longtime assistant Jeff Gould now is the defensive coordinator.
The Cougars will become a base 4-3 defense, and they expect the team to become a more cohesive unit as the year progresses.
SouthWest Edgecombe lost three of its first four games last season, but managed to finish 6-6, which included a victory in the first round of the 2-AA state playoffs.
If an even better season is in store, that surely will be music to the ears of everyone in Pinetops.
Jessie H. Nunery can be reached at 407-9959 or firstname.lastname@example.org