Monarchs begin second year under Montgomery
By AUSTIN COLBERT
Coaching changes are difficult on everyone -- even the coaches.
John Montgomery found that out the hard way in his first season leading Thomas More Prep-Marian, a disappointing 2-7 season that saw a lot of change. But after a summer of offseason conferences and further gelling, the 2013 coaching staff is in position to push its team even farther this year.
"We made a tremendous step," Montgomery said. "A new coaching staff isn't that much different from a team coming together. We have to come together as a unit and from year one to year two we've had all this time to work together."
One thing that is especially clear to Montgomery is how big an impact each of his decisions is as head coach. With a full year under his belt, everything is finally slowing down for him.
"I definitely don't feel as scrambled in my head," Montgomery said. "I've calmed down a little bit. It's easier for me to see the big picture and I've settled into the role a little bit more. If I'm a little bit calmer and a little bit more sure, then I think that plays out to my assistant coaches and into the team."
It also helps to have a more experienced team returning on the field. With the opening of fall practice Monday, TMP had 12 seniors and many returners at the skill positions, and on the offensive line.
This has helped the Monarchs get a running start compared to the beginning of last season.
"Last year we were kind of fumbling around with concepts," senior receiver and defensive back Jeffrey Richmeier said.
"But this year we already have everything down and everyone knows what we are doing. We can do the 7-on-7 drills and the team drills that we couldn't do last year."
The first day of practice had its share of positives and negatives for the Monarchs. There was the typical ugliness found this early in the season, including missed assignments, dropped passes and a lack of timing between quarterback and receiver.
Montgomery has made the focus about learning the structure of practice and teaching the players what the expectations are of them. He wants to slow things down so they understand the purpose of each drill and how it fits into the big picture.
But so far, he hasn't had to slow things down as much as last season. With so much experience returning and a more unified coaching staff, the amount of work that can be accomplished during practice goes well beyond what last year's team could do.
And most importantly, the players are determined to make the most of it.
"You can see it; they are eager. They believe that they have put in the work to be able to make the most out of each opportunity that comes ahead," Montgomery said. "They've put in the time, they've made the commitment, to expect great things from themselves and from their teammates. They are hungry and it's exciting as a coaching staff to work with a group of hungry individuals."
TMP opens its season on Sept. 6 at Ellinwood.