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SEHS football looking to take steps forward in the spring
Loren Purvis
South Effingham's first-year football coach Loren Purvis addresses his team after the Mustangs opened spring practice on May 3. (Donald Heath/Effingham Herald.)

By Donald Heath

Special for the Effingham Herald

GUYTON – South Effingham football players and their new head coach Loren Purvis huddled on the field after their first two-hour spring practice on May 3.

"Good, better, best," Purvis began.

"Never let it rest," the players responded on cue.

"’til your good is your better," Purvis followed.

"And your better is your best," the players said, ending the chant.

Purvis admits he heard the saying while coaching as an assistant with Richard Bell at Prince Avenue Christian. The saying sends a message.

"That's our vision for this program," Purvis said. "That's been my vision. We want to be at our best."

Purvis returned to Guyton less than a month ago, taking over for Coach Nathan Clark who left South Effingham to take a coaching position at Lee County.

Purvis was Clark's offensive coordinator in 2019 when the Mustangs opened the season by winning six of their first seven games and advancing to the state playoffs. SEHS hasn't had a winning season, nor a chance to play in the state playoffs, since.

Last year, SEHS finished with a 4-5 record – good compared to the two-win season the previous year, but Purvis wants good to be better – and eventually better to be best.

Making improvements on the field began with the 10 spring practices approved by the Georgia High School Association.

SEHS will finish spring ball with an intra-squad scrimmage on May 19.

"This being my first attempt at a first practice, I already see a ton of mistakes that I need to fix, but it was fun," Purvis said. "This was a dream of mine for years, to be a head coach. You prepare for years and years and now to be on the field, in that first practice, it's exciting."

Day One back in the saddle at the Corral unveiled errors and missteps.

But that was to be expected, Purvis said.

"I went to UGA's spring practice a few weeks ago and (Bulldog’s head coach) Kirby Smart's still yelling at his players," Purvis said. "You see missed blocks, missed assignments and those guys are collegiate players. That's a team that won two straight (NCAA) national championships."

Purvis said he debated about having his team practice in full pads on the first day, but he said there could be more positives than negatives.

"I think there's a lot to be learned when you put on those pads," he said. "I don't want for the mentality to ever be we're taking it lightly.

"These guys have great energy and the things we didn't like, we coached (to correct the error). I'm not going to complain. When we get on the grass, it's fun."

The first coachable thing? No tackling to the ground.

"I told them, 'Guys, I love the aggression. We shouldn't take our foot off the gas, but we have to be smart, too,' " Purvis said.

The defense appeared to be ahead of the offense during the first workout.

But Purvis, who just left Morgan County after coordinating an attack that averaged 35 points a game, saw some offensive positives from the Mustangs.

"Ashton Troutman, catching a little hitch and taking it 50 yards, that was fun to watch," Purvis said. "Kadin Ward broke a trap for some big yardage.

"Hopefully, it's a new era here. We're excited to play. We'll get there."

SEHS opens its 2023 football season Aug. 18 at home against Vidalia.