Many around East Texas believe the Spring Hill hit the lottery when it hired its new head coach Johnny Louvier in March.
The Panthers say there’s an entirely new vibe on campus and in their community since the former Gladewater quarterback arrived in North Longview.
Louvier looks to turn around a program that hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2007.
“Most of our guys, they didn’t really, they believed that we weren’t gonna do anything this year. No playoff appearance. They believed we were a two-eight team like we were last year. Not many fans, not many players. We just didn’t believe in ourselves at all,” said senior defensive tackle Malik Cooks, describing what the mood was like at Spring Hill before the arrival of Louvier who’s been an offensive coordinator at his alma mater, and at Tyler Lee, as well as head coach at Frankston in 2016.
“You know if you don’t feel like you have a chance, you’re not gonna have a chance. You know Spring Hill the last few years, have had a lot of games where they were really close and could’ve went either way. So we’ve gotta really develop that mindset to not be waiting for something bad to happen, but expect something good to happen, and you know, get some wins,” stressed Louvier.
“He just like put fire and light into our eyes. Like he know we’re not gonna be that two-and-eight team no more. He’s completely different from our last head coach. And he just hypes our whole team up. And we believe in ourselves this year, so we can actually do something this year,” added Cooks.
“I think that’s the biggest thing for us right now is energy. Everybody is flying around. Everybody is enjoying it. You’re not hearing much complaining at all. Everybody is eager to show up for practice even if it’s at 6:30 in the morning, 6:15. Everybody is eager to show up and work, and everybody is wanting to put in the work,” said senior quarterback Gage White.
Looking to change a culture is a process. Louvier and his staff are already seeing some results in just four-and-a half months.
“We want to get to where it’s player led, instead of coach led. And it’s starting to make that turn now. So when you’re a good program, that’s when you’re players are leading it, not the coaches. We’re trying to create a culture where we’re tough, work hard, and compete. And that’s just, creating that culture is way more important than the scheme. So our kids have bought in, and it’s fun to see them grow, as people as well as football players,” Louvier explained.
While the Panthers are realizing they have talent, Spring hill also has plenty of experience back on both sides of the ball with eight starters back on offense, and six on defense.
White enters his third year as Spring Hill’s starting quarterback. As a junior, he threw for 1,523 yards and 11 touchdowns. Louvier says he is quite a leader, who everyone looks up to.
“Just little stuff like, hey it’s third and short. He’s gonna be able to get in that huddle, take control of it. Let everybody focus, hey, we need two yards right here, we’re running right here. And really pump the guys up and get them motivated, rather than just get up there and run a play,” said Louvier.
“That’s one thing that I really want to focus on and take on my shoulders. I want to be here for all my teammates no matter what. I really just want to lead by example, let them see what it’s supposed to be like. And I just want to go out great,” said White.
Spring Hill opens the season at Louvier’s old stomping grounds of Gladewater on Friday August 30th at 7:30 p.m.
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