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New Poplarville defensive coordinator ready for summer

Jacob Aycock spent the past three football seasons as the defensive coordinator at Greene County, but the opportunity to join a program like Poplarville’s in the same position was too good to turn down.

Aycock was able to assume his new role in mid March, which is a rarity since most new coaches take their position in the summer.

However, the quick turnaround from Greene County to Poplarville gave Aycock the opportunity to meet his new athletes prior to spring shorts shutting down due to COVID-19.

The time spent with the players was useful, but it only included weight room sessions and outdoor workouts.

There weren’t any padded practices, nor was there time for Aycock to sit down with his defensive unit and get into the gritty details of his defense.

The team lost several key players on defense to graduation, which Aycock said might be beneficial when trying to implement a new system.

“What might actually help is there are only three maybe four returning starters. It’s almost like the guys coming in get to start fresh,” Aycock said.

Aycock is trying to stay positive given the lack of spring practices and uncertainty surrounding the summer, but as an incoming coach he knows the importance of spring ball.

Players will have to fill the holes left by seniors, while some will undergo position shifts, all of which are aspects analyzed during the spring.

“We needed spring practices and the spring game to see what guys were going to fill those shoes,” Aycock said.

The new defensive coordinator has been sending his players PowerPoint presentations and film to study while they’re stuck at home.

It may not be the same as getting the physical reps in practice, but Aycock hopes it helps quicken the transition whenever the players can safely return to the field.

“I think these kids that I’ve met are going to be chomping at the bit to get out, learn and have energy. That’s a testament to Coach (Jay) Beech and what they’ve been able to do,” Aycock said.

Aycock said another intriguing aspect of the job was the ability to work with players outside the varsity squad.

In Poplarville, the defensive coordinator will be able to teach his new defensive system not just to varsity players, but also to middle schoolers and junior varsity players.

This will mean athletes will be well versed in the system by the time they reach the varsity level.

“What I’m looking forward to is we’re going to install a defense and the seventh graders will get the same fundamentals as the varsity guys,” Aycock said.

Coaching a football team is always a group effort, but it’ll be even more so for Aycock and the other defensive coaches as they try to quickly get their athletes acclimated to the new defense.

Aycock said coaches always talk about overcoming adversity, and the new defensive coordinator will have to practice what he preaches with spring practices cancelled.

“We tell our players you have to learn how to face adversity. As coaches we have to learn the same thing. This is new for everybody so we kind of have a no excuses mentality. We’re going to figure it out,” Aycock said.