But the Mt. Zion Cohen remembers certainly doesn’t resemble the current state of Eagle Athletics, where the teams have been performing well and are doing so in top-notch facilities.
“I’m excited because I know what we used to play on and what we have now, it’s a big difference,” Cohen said. “It’s just exciting times. We had some good fall sports and just a lot of good things happening around here and hopefully we can carry that over into the spring.”
Cohen, who spent the past five years at Central, including four of those as a baseball assistant, leads the Eagles into the 2013 opener against the Lions on Monday at The Ronnie E. Burchfield Baseball Field in a 5:30 p.m. contest in his first game in charge of the MZ program.
Of course, Cohen was able to familiarize himself with the Eagle squad during summer ball, and he inherits a veteran group that lost just one senior.
“I didn’t change a whole lot of what they had done during the regular season for their benefit [in the summer]. It was a time for me to get acclimated with them and learn some of their pros and cons. We’ve implemented a lot of philosophies this spring and I think they’re taking to it pretty well,” Cohen said.
The Eagles are led by several returning seniors, with Tyler Watts, Corey Loftin and Garrett Frazier expected to anchor the pitching staff, while Chris Blanchard and James Bragg will also be counted on to step up and work the hill.
Loftin, Bragg and Tristen Puckett will shore up the middle infield, with Frazier at first base and Nate Warren and Tyler Dutton both expected to see time at the hot corner. In the outfield, MZ brings back Watts, Blanchard and Tee Watson, while T.J. Garrett is currently battling through an injury. Catcher Ryan Duren returns behind the plate as the leader of the Eagle defense.
And while the rain has made practicing a little difficult over the past few weeks, Cohen said it’s been a positive preseason and the first-year Eagle coach is looking forward to getting the season rolling.
“The kids are responding to some things that we’re implementing. We’re just eager to hit the field. We were able to do some stuff over the summer and get familiar with the kids. Some of the others came in that we didn’t get to see in the summer. It’s just exciting times,” Cohen said.
Playing in Class A, every game will count this spring for the Eagles rather than Region 6-A battles holding the most weight due to the power rankings. Cohen hopes that means his team will bring the desired intensity game-in and game-out in 2013.
“Class A has everybody thinking about different things. You know, who you’re playing and what benefits you by playing certain classifications. It’s like I told the guys, you can’t look at any game and say it’s OK for us to lose that game because you could look back on it later and say that game right there is what cost us a position in the power rankings,” Cohen said.