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Tuesday, Sep 26, 2017
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Cogmon is bringing it all together

WESLEY CHAPEL - In athletics, it is all about the nucleus. You can have all the talent in the world, but if there is not a group of leaders to bring it together, it will turn into a mess. Zephyrhills football coach Jerrell Cogmon does not like messes. Just weeks after being named the Bulldogs' new coach, replacing Tom Fisher after 20 seasons, Cogmon's staff is nearly set. "My No. 1 focus right now is trying to keep the same nucleus of coaches that we've had in the past," Cogmon said. "I'm going to adjust a couple guys as far as what they're coaching. We're going to tweak a few things defensively and offensively, but outside of that, we're going to keep the same nucleus of guys who have been here."
More importantly, nearly everyone on the staff will be on campus. "Having the guys on campus, that's an added bonus," said Cogmon, who said he also will be on campus. "That's always been one of the things I feel I didn't have in my past experiences. Having those eyes and those guys I can collaborate with and the guys who are going to support what I'm trying to get done through them." Here's how the coaching staff looks: Cogmon, who was an assistant at Tampa Bay Tech and Freedom and was the Leto head coach from 2003-04, will coach the offensive line. Greg Mathis, who coached on Fisher's staff, will take over as offensive coordinator; Troy Hochstetler, another longtime assistant, is the defensive coordinator; Michael Smith, who is second in command of the school's ROTC program, will coach the defensive line; Jason Rouser, the school's girls track coach and a 1996 Olympic gold medalist in the 4x400-meter relay, will coach the JV team; Ken Mathis, director of the Zephyrhills youth football program, will be a volunteer assistant. Cogmon said he plans to hire two more coaches to complete the staff. "We're all going to work together," Cogmon said. "It's coming together very well. I wish we could get going right now. I've never been in a situation like this, even when I was back at Tampa Bay Tech with John Colbert. It wasn't but a handful of us. At Freedom, we had a lot of guys that had the knowledge base, but they weren't on campus. "It's not the same as me having free time during my planning time and go to a coach and say, 'Hey Coach, what do you think about this?' And having those extra set of eyes on the kids helps immensely." Fans will notice a different team on the field. Cogmon has tweaked everything, from the uniforms to the offense, defense and special teams. Cogmon should have plenty of athletes to choose from. A meeting with players and parents about three weeks ago drew 65 potential players. "The main thing now is I'm just trying to take my time and be patient with everything and let everything take care of itself," Cogmon said. "The kids are excited about it, they're buying in. I know my staff is going to be great when we get done with everything. The parents are supportive."

Reporter Eddie Daniels can be reached at (813) 259-7066.

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