JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — First-year Johns Creek head football coach Matt Helmerich said the Gladiators’ community, players and coaching staff is “all-in” for the 2017 season as the program enters its ninth season.
Helmerich said the transition from Florida, where he spent six years as an assistant at powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas and one year as head coach of Ft. Pierce Central, has been “phenomenal.”
“It’s been even better than my wife or I could have dreamed of,” Helmerich said.
Helmerich was announced as Matt Kemper’s replacement in February and has since hit the ground running busying the team with 7-on-7 tournaments and camps for offensive and defensive lineman over the summer.
He said he has been welcomed with open arms by the Johns Creek community, a strong community that has established itself even in the infancy of the program.
“Coming from a program like Aquinas,” which began varsity football in 1946, “it’s pretty cool to see a program still in the beginning stages. But the community has already rallied around these kids, and not just in football. As far as academics and sports go, this is an elite community.”
Helmerich hasn’t been the only new coach to be welcomed. Johns Creek has also brought in two new coordinators and ex-Atlanta Falcon Roddy White as its receiver’s coach.
“The best thing we’ve accomplished so far is the staff we’ve put together,” Helmerich said. “I thought it may take a few years to add a few pieces here or there, but we have 13 guys on staff that are absolutely phenomenal.”
Under its new and returning coaches, Johns Creek players are on-board.
“I think they were all waiting to see how it would be under a new head coach and new coordinators, but now that we have things up and going and our new systems in place, they’re all-in,” he said.
The focus for the Gladiators’ off-season has been implementing new schemes on offense, defense and special teams, as well as fundamentals, which Helmerich said wins games on any level.
He has been “thoroughly impressed” with the talent level at Johns Creek.
“We have a lot of talent, we don’t have a lot of experienced talent,” he said. Johns Creek graduated 36 seniors last year and lost others to transfer.
But the offseason has been productive for the team, which will begin full practices Aug. 1.
“The enthusiasm is there and the attendance is at an all-time high,” Helmerich said.
“They have bought-in and they are ready.”