Sunshine implements changes to personnel, scheme

Published 7:07 pm Thursday, September 18, 2008

NEWBERN — In the midst of an 0-3 start that has seen his Tigers outscored 126-24, Sunshine head coach Jonathan Jenkins knew something had to change.

“We’re losing doing what we’re doing,” he said to his coaching staff during the second half of last week’s 48-8 loss to Maplesville.

Since that time, Jenkins said, the Tigers have been hard at work implementing both scheme and personnel changes he believes will benefit the team, which is not yet out of playoff contention.

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“ We’ve adjusted the lineup. We realized we had some people in positions that weren’t made for them,” Jenkins said. “We took one lineman, Rodrigus Evans, off the line and moved him to the backfield. He’s real excited.”

Evans, who has shifted to fullback, is reportedly energized by the change. According to Jenkins, the shifts in focus and position have altered the way in which his team is preparing for games.

“This week we’ve had very spirited practices,” Jenkins said. “We’re practicing like a team that’s 3-0.”

One of the chief factors behind the moves has been Sunshine’s inherent need to identify and ultimately play to its strengths.

“We need to find an identity,” Jenkins said of his team. “We’ve been tinkering with the scheme adjustments all year long. And none of us made the gut move to change the whole thing.”

Jenkins also said the process of making the adjustments have helped revitalize his team’s chemistry.

“Practices have been more joyful because everybody realizes we’re in the same boat,” Jenkins said. “It’s been more of a team effort making the adjustment. I think we’re more of a team because we’re 0-3 than we would be if we were 3-0.”

Whatever Sunshine’s new-look offense offers up, it is almost certain to continue featuring stalwart running back Tevin Griffin, who has proven the team’s most consistent big-play threat through its first three games.

“Tevin, of course, has breakaway speed. He’s a track star No. 1,” Jenkins said of the back. “He’ll tell you that he’s not a football star, he’s not a basketball star, he’s a track star.”

Jenkins said the speedster has transformed himself into a more complete player, a fact the new Sunshine scheme should help to highlight in the coming weeks.

“His offseason work has made him tougher, more durable,” Jenkins said of Griffin. “He’s broken a few tackles.”

Jenkins also credited Griffin with having an “intrinsic motivation” that he says helps to set the tone for the rest of the team.

“He’s not a vocal leader. He’s a lead-by-example type of guy,” Jenkins said.

Beginning tonight in Dixons Mills, Griffin will be charged with helping to carry the load for an offense that is looking to get up off the deck.

“What we really need is some success. And success doesn’t always come in wins. At this point, a 24-20 loss would be a success,” Jenkins said.

“We discussed it early on that was going to be the hardest part (of our schedule),” Jenkins said. “We’re not mathematically out. We’ve just got to have some help and have to do our own part. We’re entering the part of the schedule that some people say is a breather. It’s not much of a breather when you are 0-3.”