Keith Hatcher says that he talks with his cousin Chris, a former standout at Mount de Sales and current football head coach at Murray State once a day, and the conversation usually revolves around football.
Their recent conversations have been focused on the Cavaliers’ program, as Keith Hatcher assumes the reins of the Mount de Sales program following two of the program’s most iconic head football coaches.
Hatcher succeeds Robert Slocum, who is still the school’s athletics director and was the Cavaliers’ head coach from 1991 to 2013. He followed Mike Garvin, the Mount de Sales head coach from 1967 to 1990.
Needless to say, the prestige of heading up the Cavaliers’ program is a humbling opportunity for Hatcher.
“It’s a tremendous honor for me, especially following the two coaches that I am following. Coach Garvin is, and will always be, a legend here at Mount de Sales, just one of the greatest coaches to ever come through Macon,” Hatcher said. “And then, Coach Slocum, in 23 years, he had a tremendous amount of success. He was my coach when I was here. To follow two coaches at my alma mater and a place that is very special to me and my family, is obviously a tremendous honor for me.”
Hatcher, the Cavaliers’ defensive coordinator last year, is infusing an entirely different offensive philosophy at Mount de Sales than seen in recent seasons. The option-based offense is being replaced by the spread. With the new offense, clock-eating, grind-it-out plans of moving the ball down the field will give way to quick plays geared at maximizing the ability of the Mount de Sales skill position players.
“I am kind of going with what I know. I’ve been with Chris Hatcher the last 10 years, and he is a spread guy, and that is what I have learned, what I know and what I am comfortable teaching offensively,” Hatcher said. “I think it fits our personnel well because we do not have a lot of the big-bodied linemen where we can just mash people and try to run it down their throats.
“Our philosophy is going to be more to get the ball out in space to our players. We have some really good skill players, so if we can get the ball out to them in space with the personnel, we will have a good opportunity to be successful.”
Leading the Cavaliers’ spread will be senior quarterback Carson Leatherwood.
“He has all the athletic ability in the world,” Hatcher said of Leatherwood. “He has really worked to learn the quarterback position.”
Formerly a receiver, Leatherwood filled in on occasion last year at quarterback when needed. That, however, was in the option offense that Mount de Sales no longer employs.
Leatherwood’s main targets at receiver will be a pair of seniors -- Bailey Michael and Darius Wonnum. With a 6-foot-1 frame, Wonnum is among the tallest players on the Mount de Sales roster, giving Leatherwood a big target to throw to. Senior Keith Farris is expected to carry the bulk of the load at running back with senior Hudson Brett being the anchor of the Cavaliers’ offensive line.
“Our offense is more of a quick offense,” Leatherwood said. “It’s a lot different; you have to learn how to be a leader at quarterback.”
Linebacker Dallace Francis, another senior, is the Cavaliers’ leading tackler from a year ago and is targeted as a defensive leader with Josh Tong moving over from safety to cornerback for his senior year.
MOUNT DE SALES IN 2014
Head coach: Keith Hatcher (First season as a head coach).
2013 record: 3-8.
2014 region: GHSA 7A-A.
Returning starters: 5 on offense; 6 on defense.
Players to watch: Carson Leatherwood (6-1, 185, Sr., QB); Dallace Francis (5-10, 190, Sr., LB); Keith Farris (5-11, 200, Sr., RB); Darius Wonnum (6-1, 180, Sr., WR); Bailey Michael (5-8, 140, Sr., WR).
Aug. 29 at Pacelli
Sept. 12 GMC
Sept. 19 Strong Rock
Sept. 26 Aquinas
Oct. 3 Twiggs County
Oct. 10 at FPD
Oct. 17 at Wilkinson County
Oct. 24 at Stratford
Oct. 31 Tattnall Square
Nov. 7 Region 7-A crossover