Jonny Louvier is one cool customer. That’s what made him one of East Texas’ top QBs in the early 2000s at Gladewater. It’s that’s same sort of calm composure he brings to coaching.
After a visit with the 35-year-old first-year Spring Hill coach, there’s no question he has the gravitas needed to resurrect Panther football. He speaks more in terms of belief rather than hope.
Louvier’s Panthers take the field today as do many schools across the state starting their preseason practice. The Panthers haven’t been to the postseason in over a decade and they last won a playoff game in 2004.
That’s a dry spell Louvier aims on changing and Spring Hill faithful are counting on him to do so. Louvier was clearly eager to get things started as he spoke on the dawning of a new era in Spring Hill athletics.
“I think every year about this time it’s like Christmas for a coach,” he said. “I’m excited with it being a new job and getting with these kids and getting it rolling.
“We’ve done a lot of work in the weight room and on the field. But it’s just not the same until you get out there with helmets on and eventually pads. We look good without helmets on. Now, it’s time to see how we really look. I’m excited about it. I think we’re going to have a chance to be pretty good.”
The Panthers have eight offensive starters and six defensive regulars back from a 2-8 team. Louvier, who expects to carry 35 on his varsity roster, is excited with his skill position returnees.
“I think skill-wise we’re very deep at receiver, safety and corner. Right now the guy third on the depth chart is a pretty good football player,” he said. “On the flip side, in the interior we’ve got some pretty good players on both the offensive and defensive lines, we’re just very thin.”
Having four-year starter Gage White back in tow at quarterback gives Louvier a strong leader and seasoned veteran. Still, it’s a learning process for White as much as it is for the rest his teammates.
“Obviously, learning two new schemes ... that’s gonna be a mental part there. But really it’s also about how to practice ... how we’re gonna practice,” Louvier said of the early stages of work.
“Getting the kids to buy in to taking game reps ... whether you’re on air, or have a defender. It’s about getting to where every rep is a game rep. With a new coaching staff we’re a little behind. But we’re not gonna use that as an excuse.”
Louvier did a major reboot with the coaching staff, bringing in six new faces including new coordinators on both offense and defense.
The Panthers now base under center with some shotgun on offense, while switching from the 4-3 to the 3-4 on defense.
“We’re still gonna do what we do on offense and defense. It’s a matter of teaching it to the kids so they understand it enough to play fast. Gage has never taken a snap under center. We were going over installing the offense and realized we needed to make time for the center to snap the ball to the quarterback,” Louiver said with a laugh.
Fans can expect the Panthers to use more play action and bootlegs in their passing game. They’ll also implement more power and counters as primary run plays. The new changes in philosophy will be noticeable, considering Spring Hill used more zone-read on offense in the past.
Weston Griffis comes over from Tyler Lee as the new offensive coordinator. Griffis was Lee’s offensive line coach last year. Louvier also plucked Colton Traylor off the Red Raider staff to work with quarterbacks and handle special teams. Colton is the nephew of Arkansas Razorback assistant and one-time Gilmer head coach Jeff Traylor.
The new defensive coordinator, Brandon Joslin, comes over from Tatum. Joslin caught Louvier’s attention last year when he game planned against him as an assistant at Gladewater.
“He brings a lot of energy and is very smart. I think he’ll get the kids to play really hard,” lauded Louvier.
Other new assistants to the staff include Marty Mayfield and Matt Newton both from Hallsivlle along with Luke Macbeth from Pittsburg.
The Panthers scrimmage at Center on August 16 before hosting Tatum in a final tune-up August 22. Louvier, the 16th head coach in school history, kicks off his official tenure in his old high school haunt of Gladewater on August. 30.