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Matt Geohagen: In familiar territory

New Demopolis defensive coordinator Matt Geohagan has had a few weeks to get acquainted with his new environment, coworkers and players. In that time, he has learned a great deal about the makeup of his 2010 defensive unit.

“I think we’re going to be athletic,” Geohagan said. “We did lose a lot of guys who had been here a while. I think we’re going to be fast to the ball. We’re going to be fundamentally sound.”

Geohagan brought with him a new defense that puts less of an emphasis on gap control and focuses more on making plays on the ball. The defense’s base features a 3-4 front that is an adjustment from the 4-3 Demopolis utilized the last two years under Rudy Griffin.

Another big adjustment the players have had to make is the learning of Geohagan’s terminology.

“But one of the things we’re trying to do is relate it to the things they’ve done in the past. It is a simple defense to learn for the kids. We try to take the pressure off of them and put it onto the coaches.”

Geohagan said the Demopolis players have been very receptive of him and the new system, logging the necessary time to learn the ins and outs of the defense.

“The kids seem very hungry to learn and are willing to do what the coaches are asking them to do,” Geohagan said.

Causey hints that the players’ willingness to succeed may be a direct reflection of Geohagan’s character traits.

“He has an intensity about him that is not overbearing,” Causey said. “He doesn’t yell and scream at them. The kids see how important it is to Coach Geohagan and how important it is to them.”

The growth is beginning to show on the field as the team unit made big strides during the seven-on-seven at Jackson just two weeks ago.

“I saw some things click during the Jackson seven-on-seven,” Geohagan said. “I think we’re getting better.”

The unit is apparently getting help from its oldest players as Geohagan has credited a handful of upperclassmen with providing leadership to the unit.

“Rusty Palmer and Tramaine Irby are doing a heck of a job,” Geohagan said. “Logan Holley and Wiley Isaac are doing well in the secondary. Deonte Washington is doing a heck of a job running to the ball. I’ve been impressed with all my inside linebackers. And Reid Barkley has done a great job.”

But as well as those players have done, it is the players whose names will rarely be called that will make the most profound impact on this defense. The 3-4 front calls for the nose guard to carry a heavy defensive load.

“Those are guys right there that have got to be unselfish guys,” Geohagan said. “They may not be making tackles, but they are freeing up guys to make plays. They have to be guys that are going to hold their ground and still get to the ball. I expect a lot of out of the nose guard.”

The adaptability of the Demopolis players have helped ease Geohagan’s transition.

“There was some nerves about it,” Geohagan said about beginning the job. “There are some big shoes to fill. The defensive coordinators that have been here in the past…are good defensive guys. So we hope we can continue doing the things they have been able to do. I couldn’t ask for a better opportunity for my first defensive coordinator job.”

Upon his return, Geohagan was greeted by a number of familiar faces who coached alongside him during his first go-round at Demopolis High under Doug Goodwin.

Geohagan said that his job is also made easier by the coaches that are around him.

“I think we have a very good defensive staff,” Geohagan said. “The only way you can be a good coach is to surround yourself with good coaches.”