Littleton getting prepared for spring practice

Published 5:26 pm Friday, April 12, 2013

Coach Jeff Littleton and his wife, Kristi

Coach Jeff Littleton and his wife, Kristi

New Bainbridge High School Head Football Coach Jeff Littleton says he has only one hard-and-fast rule: “Do right.”

He elaborated in a recent interview, saying it’s a process that coaches and players have to learn together and will encompass behavior on and off the field.

“The values that we’re going to live by are being responsible, accountable, dependable and being valuable,” Littleton said. “Those things will determine whether we are doing right. As coaches, we have to push them to do those things and if they learn to do those things, they will do right.

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“The other thing is having passion and pride about what we have. If someone is slacking off in the weight room, I might ask them if they are being valuable to their team and if the answer is ‘no,’ they are not doing right.”

Littleton is 42 and graduated from Worth County High School in 1988. He remembers Bainbridge and Worth County having some gridiron battles when he was growing up. He played at the position of safety and was a member of Worth County’s Class AAA champion football team in 1987.

“I think can make a connection with the kids because I have high energy and I understand where they’re from,” he said. “I have south Georgia values. I understand their needs and that’s why I think I communicate and associate with them well.”

Littleton has retained some of the coaches from former Bainbridge coach Ed Pilcher’s staff and hopes to add some other former colleagues to his coaching staff before the fall season begins.

While attending Valdosta State College, he was a student coaching assistant under his high school coach, Milt Miller, who moved from Worth County to Lowndes High School. He has also served as an assistant coach in Dooly County, Worth County, Tift County and Cairo.

He talked about what he believed has led to Cairo High School being successful in the state football playoffs during the past several years.

“Those kids learned the process to do right and it took a little time,” he said. “Coach [Tom Fallaw] got that started and me and some of the other coaches came in there two years later and helped him carry on that philosophy. We grew into that and used that over there. We showed the kids we cared about them, they trusted us because we did things the right way. We had some great athletes that bought into the system and it went from there — we took it to the next level.”

Angelo Pease, who helped lead the Syrupmakers to state runners-up in 2007 and win state championship in 2008, is now a running back/quarterback at NCAA Division 1’s Kansas State. Pease’s former Syrupmaker teammate J.J. Wilcox went on to play for Georgia Southern and is expected to be picked in this year’s NFL Draft.

Littleton said his personal coaching style is to “be loose and not get uptight.”

“It doesn’t do you any good to scowl,” he said. “Your confidence has to breed confidence to the players…we’re going to play the same way every game. On Fridays, we’re prepared and it’s time to execute our plan. Sometimes it doesn’t always work, but it won’t be because we weren’t prepared.”

Assistant Coach Scott Roberts, who will be the Bearcats’ offensive coordinator this fall, mentioned that his preferred offensive scheme is an I-formation in the backfield.

“The reason we’re going to do that is that we want people to see us as a strong, power team,” Roberts said. “We don’t want to be labelled as a team that wins with finesse. We want to be able to run it right at you—that’s what we want to build towards. We want to have the confidence that if it’s fourth and one, we’re going to run right at you and get it.”

Spring practice for varsity football will begin May 6 and continue for 10 days, and an inter-squad scrimmage will be held at 5 p.m. on Friday, May 19.

Seventh graders will have spring practice between April 22 through April 25, while eighth graders will go from April 29 to May 2. Middle school will be held at Centennial Field or Bainbridge Middle School.

Littleton, who has previously lived in Cairo, Sylvester and Valdosta, said the unified small-town feel of Bainbridge appeals to him. He and his wife have two daughters, ages 9 and 6.

“It’s a one school town and we don’t have to share kids,” he said. “Everyone’s behind Bainbridge High School. I like that — I want everyone to be a Bearcat.”