IT’S NOT UNCOMMON FOR NEW COACHES TO GET A JUMPSTART on getting to know players and beginning to establish their philosophies and routines. Chattooga High’s new coach Roone Gable is no exception.
“Luckily, I was able to come in in January and bring in some other assistants that came in March. With the remaining staff, we were able to get to work in the weight room and off-season work almost immediately,” he says. “We had a very good offseason. The kids have had to learn new systems on offense and defense, and it’s been fun just getting to know the players and having them get to know us.”
The solid offseason work morphed into a big summer for the Indians with solid attendance and a group that’s been sitting right at around 60 players.
“We’ve been holding at about 60 players this summer, but we want that number to be bigger. We only have seven seniors on this team so we are still an underclassmen-heavy group here,” Gable says.
Although the underclassmen will need to step up, several more experienced players return for the Indians, including linebacker Bubba Bass who was all-region in 2022.
“He is a three-year starter, and he is definitely one of our leaders. He is also probably one of the hardest workers on this team,” Gable says.
Gable also mentions that seniors Korei Shaver, Ty Hall, and Hunter Brown are some other players that have done a good job stepping up for the squad and leading the team.
He also mentions that juniors like Dan Meyer and Quarry Gibson will also be key leaders even though they are just juniors.
“Gibson played quarterback and wide receiver last year. He is an explosive athlete, and we want to have the ball in his hands,” Gable said. “Meyer is another explosive kid on the outside. He is the kind of player that can catch a five-yard pass and turn it into a 50-yard touchdown.”
He also says that running back Zayden Cook is poised to have a good year. The junior has clocked at 4.5 in the 40 and finished third in the state in the 300 hurdles last year.
As for philosophies on offense and defense, Gable has made a couple of changes for the Indians.
“Offensively, we want to be as balanced as possible. We are still going to run the ball and be physical, but we want to be able to throw the ball. We have some good athletes on the outside, and we want the ball in their hands,” he says. “Our offense will be a mix between a pro-style and a spread-style team. We have a handful of playmakers, so it’s our job to get the ball in their hands.”
Danny Wilson will be the defensive coordinator, and Gable says the Indians will definitely find some ways to put pressure on opposing offenses.
“Danny is installing a new defense. We are aggressive. We want to bring some heat and pressure and be able to put pressure on the offense,” he says. “We feel like we have some athletes who can cover some people, so hopefully that pressure will do well for us.”
Chattooga plays in Region 7A, Division 1 and this season several coaches from the region mention that it looks to possibly be a bit wide open as to which teams might actually make the playoffs.
“I think that on paper, Trion and Darlington are probably the top two and then there is the rest of us. I think we are all in the same boat thinking that we might have a chance to get those three region wins and get to the playoffs,” Gable says.
To get to that position, Gable says some early non-region games could be the key for the young Chattooga squad.
“We need to have some early success. We need some good things to happen, and we need to stay injury free. If we can do that and build the belief in ourselves, I think we can be competitive,” he says.
Along with that Gable praises the assistant coaches and all of the players who have gelled and meshed over the offseason and into the summer.
“I was very blessed to bring on an amazing coaching staff. I joke all the time that there are over 300 wins and multiple state championships on my staff. I can’t say enough about our coaching staff and our kids buying in and putting in the work we asked to do,” he says. “We are excited about the future. It may not lead to a lot of wins this year, but the future is bright for Chattooga.”