By Doug Gorman
It's not hard to get a sense of enthusiasm once you're inside the doors of Luella High School.
The smell of fresh paint is everywhere and although the school bell won't usher students to their first class for almost a month, Henry County's newest high school is buzzing with activity.
The excitement can be felt inside the athletic department where Paul Burgdorf is juggling many tasks.
Burgdorf, who has been hired as the Lions' first head football coach and athletic director, has spent the summer getting ready for the start of the new school year.
The school's new coach has witnessed the excitement first hand.
"All of our athletic programs have already been working very hard," he said.
"Our weight room has been open to all the teams and they are taking advantage."
Burgdorf accepted the position as head coach and athletic director after a long career as an assistant coach.
During his last stop at Morgan County, Burgdorf served as the team's defensive coordinator.
Getting hired at Luella High School is a bit of a homecoming for Burgdorf. Early in his career, he served as an assistant coach at Stockbridge High School under Mike Creasman, who is the new football coach at Luella Middle School.
"It will be good working with Mike again," he said. "We want to use the middle school as a feeder program."
One of the first things Burgdorf did as a head football coach was surround himself with quality assistants, including Nick Williamson, who also comes to the staff from Morgan County.
In addition to his role as the Lions' defensive coordinator, Williamson is also the team's strength and conditioning coach.
"He really knows what he is doing," said Burgdorf.
The team's volunteer weight training program is open for sessions at 6:30 a.m., 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.
"Our young players are buying into what we are trying to teach," Burgdorf said.
The Lions' first football season begins with a non-region schedule and includes seven varsity games.
After playing two scrimmage games during the middle of August, Luella's first official game comes against Whitewater at home on Aug. 29.
A home-and-home series against Peachtree Ridge and Kell also dots the schedule.
One of the more interesting dates on the schedule pits the Lions against the Mundy's Mill Tigers on the road on Oct. 10. Mundy's Mill enters its second season of varsity football.
Luella opens its doors to primarily freshman and sophomore students.
Here are some of the head coaches in other sports at Luella:
Steve Adkins (girls softball, boys basketball), Richard Westbrook (cross country and track), Jane Sheppard (cheerleading), Alan Keel (volleyball), Stephanie Willocks (girls basketball and girls soccer) and Clay Woerner (wrestling).
Rounding out the list of head coaches at the brand new high school are Jane Burke (girls track), Sevy Sapp and Amanda Langford (tennis), Kevin Van Tone (boys soccer) and Andy Cooper (baseball).
The school is still looking to hire a golf coach, but that is expected shortly.