Shortly after officially being named Smiths Station head football coach, Mike Glisson stressed a point that will likely make or break his time with the Panthers.
“Let’s keep our kids in Smiths Station,” Glisson said. “Let’s all join together to do what we’ve got to do for these kids and give them every opportunity to get better.”
Glisson may be new to the Smiths Station program, but it’s evident he understands the situation he’s inheriting.
Smiths Station has been decimated by transfers the last few years, leaving the 7A program overwhelmed against the likes of Central in Region 2-7A. The Panthers have only won two games in the past two seasons, which included a disastrous 0-10 mark last season during which the team averaged just under four points per game.
A quick look at past rosters make it clear the Smiths Station area is not lacking in talent. Glenwood’s Cameron O’Neil, who has signed to play at Pitt, began his high school career as a Panther. Likewise, Kennesaw State signee Kelcy Allen played at Smiths Station prior to going to Glenwood for his senior year. Central rising senior quarterback Peter Parrish also spent time at Smiths Station before becoming a consistent playmaker for the Red Devils.
Glisson knows the situation well from his time coaching in the area with stops at Beauregard and Auburn High. The real issue for the new head coach is finding the answers predecessor Adam Fossett could not.
In Glisson’s opinion, it all starts with installing a winning mentality that permeates from player to player.
“You’ve got to give them something to believe in,” Glisson said. “You’ve got Central down there that’s got an awesome football team, one of the best football teams in the state. We’ve got to do a good job of selling our kids on what we’re trying to do and what we’re trying to build at Smiths Station. We need to talk to their parents and let them know we’re about ultimately creating young men to better our world.”
Central is obviously the measuring stick people hold up to Smiths Station. Although the performances of both programs have been polar opposite over the past four seasons, the numbers over the previous years are relatively comparable.
Central’s hiring of Jamey DuBose was the moment that launched the Red Devils miles ahead of Smiths Station and made the Red Devils the hot program in the area. Glisson enters the picture with a ton of experience in the region from nine years at Auburn, and his three-year stint as a defensive coach at Beauregard showed nothing but positive marks.
Glisson may build a team that one day rivals Central in terms of attractiveness, but first, he must focus on making it a team that Smiths Station’s own want to be part of.
“It’s not a magic formula,” Glisson said. “You show the kids you love them and you care about them, and they’re going to work for you.”
Jordan D. Hill: 770-894-9818, @lesports