“We’ve had a really great experience so far. The community has accepted me, and we’ve hit the ground running with the football team,” Pressley said. “The kids are working very hard to try to rebuild the program, bring in some fresh faces and have a facelift here in terms of culture and attitude.”
Pressley — originally from Kingston, Tenn. — comes to Church Hill following a three-year stint at Lindblom Academy in Chicago. He brings a fast, up-tempo style of offense that is designed to run as many plays as possible.
“The biggest transition that I have encountered is that the players I had in Chicago didn’t have a lot of experience with youth league football,” Pressley said. “Here in East Tennessee, the kids are already familiar with football. It’s already been a big help to me and my staff. It’s easier to get the program going.”
There’s nowhere to go but up for the Falcons, as they are coming off a 0-10 season in 2017. Most of last year’s starters have returned, but the Volunteer squad has only eight seniors this season.
One of the key returners is junior quarterback Eli Dorton, who started all 10 games last year.
“I think playing all the games last year as a 15-year-old sophomore is a tremendous help. I was going up against guys that were almost twice my size last year, and it helped me get better,” Dorton said. “Coach Pressley has been awesome. I don’t think they could’ve picked a better coach for the job. I think the young staff that we have can relate a lot better to us. Last year, we couldn’t relate to the coaches much. This year, it’s different. They’ve been in a lot of the situations we’ve been in. They understand us.”
The Falcons return several other key starters including tight end Joe Olterman, lineman Clayton Snapp, Christian Gibson, receiver Peyton Derrick, Peyton Baker and others.
The Falcons were young last year and will still be one of the youngest teams in East Tennessee, but they have plenty of experience on both sides of the ball.
Look for the youthful Falcons to make some noise in a tough 5A Region 1 this year.
Volunteer starts its season with a tough road game on August 17 at Happy Valley.