Peer tries to spread a new system

August 15, 2010|By MARK KELLER

Toby Peer stood behind the concessions counter inside the South Hagerstown High School gym Saturday morning, a one-man peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich assembly line.

While South's football players attended meetings with their offensive and defensive coaches, Peer -- the Rebels' new head coach --carefully spread the PB&J mixture onto soft white bread using a knife designed to cut a meat loaf.

"I'm gonna make 50 of 'em," Peer said as he stacked the sandwiches on a tray. "Some of the kids brought their own stuff for lunch. We have to make sure those who didn't are taken care of."

Saturday was the first day of practice for fall sports teams in Maryland public schools, and all over Washington County, football and soccer teams took the field, volleyball squads filled the gyms and cross country runners hit the trails to prepare for the 2010 season.


Peer had just overseen his first practice for a South program trying to end a drought of seven years since its last winning season. While he was pleased with what he saw in his first two-hour session, Peer realizes there's a long way to go in a very short time.

"We're so far behind. They don't know our offense, they don't know our defense or our special teams, so everything's new," Peer said. "All three phases are new. So the expectation for the kids is this: Hustle and do what you're coached to do and we'll go from there."

Peer is one of five new coaches at South, including offensive coordinator Rob Burnham and defensive coordinator Frank English, both of whom coached with Peer at William Fleming High School in Roanoke, Va.

He also is joined by Jeremy Hairston, who played guard at Shepherd University last season, and Brandon Pennington, who coached with Peer at Shepherd in the early 1990s and also worked as an assistant at Martinsburg and Hedgesville.

In addition, five coaches return from last year's staff: Jeff Shank, David Lawrence, Donnie Rowland, MeMe Davis and Josh Bussard.

Peer only took over the head coaching position in May, meaning his staff members have had to be quick studies in order to get on the same page so they, in turn, can get players on the same page.

"I'm pretty sure over at Boonsboro and over at Smithsburg, the players have a pretty good handle on coaches' expectations," Peer said. "These kids don't know what's expected at our practice, the tempo of our practice and the intensity of the practice. So we're teaching all those things right now as well, so the kids have a feel for the way practice is run.

"It's no different than running a classroom. Your classroom has to be a model of efficiency the first day of class. A coach's practice needs to be the model of efficiency the very first time he starts practice. That's critical."

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