After news broke that former Shelbyville Central coach Josh Puckett had resigned to accept a head baseball coaching position at Haywood County, the Shelbyville Central administration didn’t …
After news broke that former Shelbyville Central coach Josh Puckett had resigned to accept a head baseball coaching position at Haywood County, the Shelbyville Central administration didn’t have to look past its own backyard to find his successor.
Earlier this week, Shelbyville Central defensive coordinator Jud Dryden was promoted to head coach to take over the program.
Having been such an integral part of the program for the previous two years, Dryden said, helps the transition into his taking the reins of the program.
Having been here and knowing the players and been part of the community, it makes the transition so much easier. But it’s also humbling they gave me the reins to this thing, to trust me with it and trust me to take care of those athletes and move this program forward. It’s humbling and it’s exciting. It’s going to take some work, which we’ve already started putting in, but they’ve responded well,” he said.
In addition to heading up the Eagles’ defense for the previous two years that allowed an average of 24.3 points playing a brutal 6A slate last year, Dryden also was in charge of the Eagles’ strength and conditioning program.
Having been in charge of two key components of the program, Dryden feels the returning players know the system and expectations, which gives the coaching staff a leg up following the TSSAA mandated dead period.
“I was already a pretty integral part. I do our strength program, I had been doing our strength program and I was defensive coordinator. He was running the offense. His co-offensive coordinator will be taking that over,” he said.
While there’s some similarities players will be familiar with, Dryden also sees some pending changes in how the program will operate moving forward.
“The biggest thing will be stuff people won’t necessarily see. Practices will be faster—not to get over with, but with a sense of urgency and a sense of purpose. Everything will be very defined and delineated in a way,” he said.
Dryden also plans to put a major focus on team activities away from the field to help build more of a family environment.
“We’re going to bring back some of the team building type stuff and just getting kids together outside of football. We’re trying to put together several different events throughout the year. We call them events, but they’re really just get togethers and gatherings and just trying to get the kids together and be more family oriented.”
Another key focus Dryden wants the Eagles to focus on is creating a fun environment on the field.
“I want the kids, first and foremost, to have fun with what they’re doing. And playing fast is fun for the guys. They like getting out there and making big plays. What plays into that are numbers. We’re light on numbers right now. Right now we only have six seniors playing 6A football. So we’re going to have a lot of guys playing both ways. So we may have to slow things down this year and maybe drive in spurts,” he said.
“But the big thing there is making sure whatever we’re doing, the kids are having fun. The defense will stay the same—it will be very aggressive. And we’ll be very aggressive on special teams, which is a little different than what we’ve done in the past. It’s feast or famine sometimes, it’s high risk, high reward, but at the same time it’s fun. It’s exciting and that’s why we want our guys to play football is to learn lessons but have fun doing it.”
Dryden’s vision for the program hopes to put the Eagles on track to compete among the best Class 6A teams in the state and that starts at the ground level.
“The big thing for us is we can’t control our talent. What we can help to control is keeping the kids that play at our feeder schools want to play Blue and Gold and not go somewhere else. The second thing is, the weight room is a great equalizer. If we’re great in there, we can be good on the field, no matter the talent level. We can compete. That’s the other thing, we want to make things as competitive as possible. I think those things are what will help us be successful in 6A and be able to move us forward,” he said.
Dryden marks the third coach for the Eagles’ program in four years and while he technically becomes a new head coach for the team, he hopes that having been on the sidelines for the past two years will help the team’s continuity.
“Continuity is everything. Our players do not have to relearn an offense. They do not have to relearn a defense. They don’t have to relearn a weight room philosophy. But most importantly they don’t have to relearn a brand new coach. They know what I’m about, they know what the expectations are and they know the standards we live by. They’re coming in to this thing at ease and relaxed knowing we’re all the same page moving forward. I think that is huge,” he said.
So far this summer, the Eagles have worked in seven-on-sevens in June and have put in the base work so following the dead period, the Eagles can focus on streamlining practice and fine tuning the operations side of the team to Dryden’s vision for the program.
“Thats going to be the focus on July. Right now we’re scheduled to go to Riverdale. That’s it. We did tried to do most all of our seven-on-seven stuff in June. That will be the nice thing coming back is because everything we worked on in June will be picking right back up in July. Those issues are not there for us. It’s going to be nailing things down, getting new coaches and making sure practices are streamlined so everybody is living up to the expectations and standard, so we’re constantly moving forward. After that we’re all about us,” he said.
Success in Year 1 of the Dryden Era may look a little different for the Eagles.
Dryden wants to break every element of the game down into individual competitions and challenging the Eagles to win those individual challenges to create an overall team victory.
“Success in Year 1 is going to be we’re breaking it down for them. “How well did I do my job tonight? How well did I do my job today in practice? How well did I do my job Friday night?”We’re going to dig into how many snaps do I win? This game is made up of seconds and inches, not minutes and even though it’s made in yards, it really isn’t. It’s made in inches. So it’s ‘Did I take every opportunity I had and make the most of it?’” he said.
“That’s what success is and it won’t matter whether it’s Year 1 or Year 10. Success is based on putting a string of consecutive wins, snap-by-snap together with all 11 guys on the field and that equates into scoring points, holding a team from scoring points and the scoreboard saying what we want it to. And the great thing about that is it transitions into what they’re going to do for the rest of their life. If you put small wins together, they turn into big wins.”
Shelbyville opens the Dryden Era on Thursday, August 18 at arch-rival Tullahoma.
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