By Derrick Mahone
As a first year head coach at Mundy's Mill last season, Peniel Dany played a lot of underclassmen with the hopes of building for the future.
The Tigers took their lumps on the field with an 1-9 record while playing on the Class AAAAA level.
Dany is confident that the program is heading in the right direction as he begins his second season at the school. Mundy's Mill has moved down to Class AAAA with a schedule loaded with Clayton County rivals.
"We had a lot of guys that went through a learning experience last season," Dany said. "We played a lot of young guys last season. I wanted to start from scratch. Our No. 1 issue was discipline, but now I think we are there with that. They now know what to expect to play on this team."
During the offseason, Dany hired an entirely new offensive staff as he will again be in charge of the defense. Last season, the Tigers only averaged eight points per game. Only three times did they reach double figures in scoring.
Dany hired veteran offensive coordinator Glenn Duff to remedy the offensive woes. Duff, whose offense features the Wing-T, has coached at Northgate and Mount Zion.
"He is a veteran guys that knows what he is doing," Dany said. "He has total control over the offense. I want to be able to spend as much time working on the defense. He has brought in some good guys on his staff."
The Wing-T will be a switch from last year's spread offense. Dany said the new offense will be more lineman-friendly for the Tigers.
As fall practice is scheduled to begin on Monday, the Tigers are still in a heated quarterback battle. Sophomore Darius Sizemore is battling senior Anthony Hammonds for the top spot. Dany said both have gotten a good grasp of the offense during the summer.
"I think the competition will bring out the best in both of them," Dany said.
Last season was also a challenging season for Dany, who had coached at winning programs throughout his coaching career, which included stops at Dougherty, North Clayton, Creekside and Baldwin. He was defensive coordinator on the 1998 Class AAA championship team.
Going 1-9 last season didn't sit too well with Dany during the offseason.
"I'm used to being in winning programs," he said. "Last season wasn't that much fun."
And the players can sense a new atmosphere on the team.
"The conditioning on the team has increased," junior Brandon Rush said. "We have more leaders on the team this year. We have a lot more discipline on the team. We are more of a family."
Senior Ehi Okosun agreed.
"We are pushing each other every day," he said. "We are looking to be successful this season."
Prior to the 2009 season, the Tigers were 0-10 in Dorwyn Lyles' only season at the school. Mundy's Mill made back-to-back playoff appearances during the 2006-07 seasons.
"We have a lot more intensity in practice," senior Reggie Stephens said. "We are getting a swagger about ourselves. It all starts with that practice intensity."
And Dany can also see the difference.
"They have a lot more confidence this season," he said. "They feel like they can win. I think the kids believe they can win."
Dany, who has coached under Don Shockley, Kevin Whitley and Rodney Hackney, also thinks he has grown as a head coach. A longtime defensive coordinator, last season was his first as a head coach.
He said his approach to the game is a lot different this season.
"I'm a little more patient now," Dany said. "I'm teaching at a lot more slower pace."
It should also help that he now has a full coaching staff. Last season, he only had three assistants. In addition to a new offensive staff, Dany has added three assistants to his defensive staff, including former Georgia Tech standout Bryan Corhen. Dany coached Corhen when he was an all-state lineman at Dougherty.
"I've got some guys with experience," Dany said. "I don't have to coach coaches. I'm not into micro-management. I think we have a good staff in place."