The Bowdon High School boys basketball coach was hit extremely hard by graduation, losing six seniors, including four-year starter and standout guard J.B. Stephens.
“We’re starting over. We are rebuilding. With all those seniors last year, we’re starting a new group with only one senior returning. We’ve got four or five juniors and our sophomore group’s pretty big. They’re all going to have to play. So everybody’s going to kind of be new to the varsity level with a couple of exceptions,” Coggins said.
Along with Stephens, a do-it-all performer over the past four years, Bowdon also lost guards Trae McDaniel, Tyler Wright, Alonzo Wyatt, Maricio “Poo Poo” Askew and forward Cam Holbrook, who all played major minutes last season.
Returning center Logan Reeves, a 6-foot-4 post, is the lone senior back, while rising juniors Chris Keith and Marcus Thurman will likely be the two cogs that make the Red Devils go this winter.
“Those two guys are going to have to lead us wherever we have to go. Going into [Class] AA here, we know it’s going to be extremely tough. But leaving Class A, it was always tough there, too,” Coggins said.
Coggins understands he’s going to have to rely on several underclassmen, as well, noting that he has a strong sophomore class coming up that provides a lot of promise for the future. Of course, there will be some growing pains in getting to that point by putting young players on the court.
But the Bowdon coach said guys like Darnell Holland, Tomaz Jordan, Jeremy Almon, Pearce Kirk, Juwan Maze, Jess Rogers and Josh Smith are going to be integral parts of the program — now and in the future.
“We’ve got five or six of them that we’re really looking at. We’ve got everything from sophomores that we’re hoping are going to help to even some younger guys,” Coggins said.
The Red Devils finished 12-13 overall last season and in third place in Region 6B-A. They now tackle a new challenge in moving up to Class AA, where they join a region that includes reigning Class AA state semifinalists Jordan and Manchester, with the Blue Devils reaching the state championship game this past March. Of course, there are also local rivals Bremen and Temple in the mix, along with Heard County.
“Supposedly, [Manchester] has lots of guys coming back. Kendrick’s very tough. They’re all going to be good, so the region will be very difficult. From top to bottom, everybody will be pretty solid,” Coggins said.
And though it is a step up in classification, Coggins isn’t necessarily upset about the move after dealing with all those private schools in past years at the Class A level.
“I mean, there’s going to be some bigger schools, but coming out of Class A with some of the all-star teams that the Class A private schools can put together ... but obviously, there will be some tough teams in our region. It’s going to be different and difficult, but I don’t know how much more difficult it will be than us playing in Class A against the private schools,” Coggins said.
Coggins said his ball club will have played 15-to-18 games at the varsity level and just about the same with the junior-varsity guys by the end of the month, which has made for a productive summer.
“For us, we’ve only got a couple of guys that are varsity-only. So, really, some guys are going to play 20-to-30 games. For us, it’s not so much games, but we want to get in and do a lot of fundamental work. Shoot, shoot, shoot just as much as we can,” Coggins said. “We need to work on us as much as we need to work on playing games. It’ll be good just to get some time in the gym just by ourselves.”