Sphire aspires to get Wildcats moving

Having played prep football in a system which had one high school, Bob Sphire is keenly aware how a unified community can boost a team.

Coming from North Gwinnett, the newly hired Camden County High head football coach also knows about winning in the state’s classification for the biggest schools. A frequent playoff entrant with the Bulldogs, Sphire arrives in Kingsland with new offensive concepts he thinks should filter to other areas of his team.

“I’ve always believed if you can get everybody buying into your leadership and your philosophies, you can do some unbelievable things in a setting like this,” he said.

Among his first orders of business, Sphire met with the 'Cats last Friday morning to share his bold vision. Swapping Bulldog red for Wildcat blue, he begins full-time Feb. 1 to put his “culture-shock change” into motion.

“I wanted the players to know that there is a philosophical identity change in terms of how we’re going to practice and how we're going to play,” he said. “We’re going to be a fast, no-huddle, spread-the-field, attack offensive system, which will set the tone for an attack defense and go-for-the-throat special teams.”

With 282 lifetime wins between Georgia and Kentucky schools, Sphire has taught the spread for the last 22 years, and had previously coached the wing-T — Camden's longtime scheme under Jeff Herron and Welton Coffey — and triple option. 

The acclimation period for players could take some time, so getting the correct fundamentals and principles instilled is crucial. 

“I know to do it right, it’s not a short-term thing,” he said. “How we measure success early is going to be probably a multitude of ways, not just the scoreboard. No one wants more to win than I want to win right away. No one wants to win long-term and consistently where you have a program, not just a one-year team, more than I do.”

The benefits to the spread are many, though success depends on coaches constantly evaluating available talent to adapt the plan for a given season. 

“We are always morphing our system to fit the skill sets of the players,” he said.

Regardless of whether the quarterback has great or limited mobility, many players can be threats in the offense, pressuring the opposition to cover the whole field vertically and horizontally. Sets can be different and utilized in many ways from year to year.

“In the spread, we’ve never gone away from the mantra that you have to be able to run the football to be successful,” he said. “If you can do it out of one back with four receivers, wow. If you've got to include a tight end to get it done, you attach a tight end … that’s the beauty of what we have within our system.”

And in today’s time, he added, the spread transitions very well for players wanting to play college football.

“I think they’ll have a blast playing in this system,” he said. “I think they will be so geeked up about the opportunities to play in this system.” 

Sphire conceded leaving North Gwinnett – where he averaged 10 victories a season over 11 years and reached two state finals – was very difficult. Even after a down year, Camden County has plenty going for it, according to the new coach.

“I’m here because of a lot of reasons,” he said. “One of those is, this program has been a very successful program and has that in its roots. The expectations of being a championship-caliber program are why you want to be there as a coach.”

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