SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – When new head coach Michael Thompson arrived for his second tour of duty at Beach High School, he placed a priority on restoring the program’s pride.
That task will be a difficult one after the Bulldogs went through a rough season, even by 2020 standards.
Thompson replaces Corey Phillips, who suffered a stroke on the sidelines during Beach’s week two game against Jenkins. Phillips is still recovering and decided to take a step back from coaching.
With the Bulldogs able to meet more frequently than they did in the run-up to 2020, Thompson says he sees progress in his team even compared to where they were a month ago when he took over the job.
“I feel like we are making progress especially when we’re dealing with the three phases of the game, we still having kids join the team every day so that’s a plus, but our goal is to make sure we get better each and every day,” Thompson said.
Beach’s late additions to the team are mostly coming thanks to SCCPSS’ return to in-person learning. Lots of kids that might have otherwise played football stayed home last season. Now that Thompson and his staff can get back to recruiting in the hallways, their numbers are improving.
However, the Bulldogs are still lacking a bit of experience up front.
“We are just recently are getting linemen that are mostly sophomores and freshmen,” said senior Ameer Phillips. “We don’t have a lot of upperclassmen linemen, so it’s more a matter of just showing up.”
“We need to be getting that pride back into the building, that these kids understand that their hard work is not going to be taken for granted when they step out onto the football field or when they excel in the classroom,” Thompson said. “Our goal is to make sure we set the tone this year to establish that pipeline throughout our hallways.”
The Bulldogs will not have far to travel for their regular season slate; their only game outside Chatham County will be at Liberty County on October 29. (The South Effingham date on August 20 is a scrimmage.)
Beach will have to re-tool an offense that averaged just over nine points per game in a 2-5 campaign last season. The Bulldogs got shut out in three of seven contests. Thompson was the Bulldogs’ offensive coordinator in 2019, which should help turn things around.