Doug Miller's decision to leave Gallatin County for Hamilton County High School wasn't an easy one, but the Hawks' transition from Miller to new coach Jeff Herrmann has been easy and seamless.
Herrmann admits there isn't much difference between the coaches two styles as Herrmann spent the last four seasons as the Hawks' junior varsity coach and had a front row seat for a team that went 19-10 last season before bowing out in the regional final, losing to Cairo by seven at home.
"Coach Miller was great to work for, he was a fantastic coach," Herrmann said. "He let me feel like it was my team with him so I feel like there were two head coaches on that bench the last four years we've been together. I feel like I've slid in pretty quick and pretty easy with the transition."
The transition might be easy. The expectations might not be.
Favored by many in Class 1A in southern Illinois this season, Gallatin County and Herrmann have high expectations for a group that returns four starters off last year's club.
Five seniors make up this year's team, including Robbie Prince, Michael Valez, Garrett Rushing, Lucas Reeder and Audie Goebel. Four juniors, Will Henson, Connor Kiesecoms, Dawson Hish and Brock Seely are bookended by three sophomores, Garrett Crane, Case Rister and Gunner Wilson.
"We have a four-senior starting lineup that we're looking at," Herrmann said. "Thompsonville is sitting pretty high in our conference. They got a high ranking for preseason so that's definitely something we're trying to put a mark towards and see if we can size up with them a little bit."
Herrmann is quick to point out that while he feels he has the experience, the deficiency lies with a lack of depth.
"We're not real deep. That hurts us a lot," Herrmann said. "I feel really confident in going about six deep right now. Injuries are already hurting us. We're looking at seven, but right now we're looking at six."
And whether Miller had a name for a play that Herrmann calls something different, the concept remains the same and Herrmann preaches the importance of something that both coaches urged and felt strongly about.
"We pretty much have the same mentality. We actually ran the same plays back when he was head coach. We would just have different names for them. I played for coach (Greg) Goodley (at Eldorado) It's awesome that we have the same mentality. The same approach. He (Doug) probably slows the game down a little more than what I do. I'm a little more up tempo. But that's probably about the only difference. It was kind of funny -- when I first started coaching, I'd run this play and he'd go 'oh I love it, but I call it this.' I had to adjust as a JV coach learning his names.
"When you see me I'm up and down and I don't stay quiet. I try to stay positive with the boys. The only thing I really get frustrated with is when they don't do things right on the defensive end. So you're going to miss some shots as long as you go back and play hard on that defense then I'm going to be happy with it. I'm hoping we hit a few shots here and there but my goal is to stop the other team from scoring. We're short so we have to be fast and react."
Spyder Dann covers prep and college sports for the Southern Illinois Local Media News Group. Follow him on Twitter: @spydieshooter.
11-19 GRAYVILLE 7:45PM
11-20 at Carmi-White Co. 7:45PM
11-26 at DuQuoin Tournament 6PM
11-28 at DuQuoin Tournament 6PM
11-30 at Eldorado 7:45PM
12-1 at DuQuoin Tournament 6PM
12-4 CRAB ORCHARD 7:45PM
12-7 POPE CO 5:30PM
12-10 at Wayne City Tournament TBA
12-12 at Wayne City Tournament TBA
12-13 at Wayne City Tournament TBA
12-14 at Wayne City Tournament TBA
12-15 at Wayne City Tournament TBA
12-20 at Goreville 7:45PM
12-27 at EHT TBA
12-28 at EHT TBA
12-29 at EHT TBA
1-4 CARRIER MILLS 7:45PM
1-5 at Pope Co. 12PM
1-8 WAYNE CITY 7:45PM
1-15 at NCOE 7:45PM
1-18 at Hardin Co 7:45PM
1-21 GEC Tournament TBA
1-22 GEC Tournament TBA
1-23 GEC Tournament TBA
1-24 GEC Tournament TBA
1-25 GEC Tournament TBA
1-26 GEC Tournament TBA
1-29 at Carrier Mills 7:45PM
2-1 GALATIA 7:45PM
2-2 HAMILTON CO 7:45PM
2-5 at Thompsonville 7:45PM
2-9 at Webber 7:45PM
2-12 HARDIN CO 7:45PM