Tommy Macon and Gerald Barnes took different paths but have reached the same destination.
Macon spent two years as defensive line coach at Georgia Southern before taking the head coaching job at Josey in April. Barnes will strap on the head sets for Westside in tonight's opener at Evans after serving as an assistant for the Patriots the past 22 years.
Josey hosts Butler tonight and Macon said the Eagles have adapted well to his coaching style. He said the whole program has been in transition since he came aboard.
"I hope I give the kids the impression I know what I'm talking about whether I came from college or not. They do respect that. They listen to me," Macon said. "The coaching staff is learning right along with the kids."
The Eagles finished 11-2 last year in John Starr's final season. Meanwhile the Patriots ended the Don Fendley era with a 4-6 record.
Barnes doesn't have any radical changes in mind during his first season as head coach. Total accountability is the only difference the Westside coach foresees.
"We really haven't changed much. We do a lot of the same stuff," Barnes said. "The responsibility is greater but the coaching is the same."
The Patriots new coach said Fendley didn't leave him with any pearls of wisdom but gave him some words of encouragement. Barnes said his experiences on the Westside sidelines kept him loyal to the Patriots even when he was offered jobs at other schools.
"Coach Fendley and I have been friends a long time and he wished us well," Barnes said. "I had a couple of chances to go other places but I like being here and coaching here.
"It hasn't been a situation where I was interested in going somewhere else."
Macon installed a less complicated game plan at Josey which he says his team has taken to. The Eagles didn't play in a jamboree and Macon is anxious to see if they can carve out their own identity.
"It (new offense) takes a lot of repetitions to get everything down pat. We're going to work on it until we get it right," Macon said. "We're living on reputation right now but these kids have to earn their own reputation."
Although Josey lost All-American Deon Grant and all-state defensive back Armark Tolbert to graduation, Macon believes his team can be successful in 1997.
"Our kids have worked hard. That's one thing coach (John) Starr left, good work attitude with the young kids," he said.
Continuing the Eagles' winning tradition is Macon's goal. Macon led Savannah High School to a 10-2 season and a AAAA state playoff berth in 1993 so he knows what it takes to win. However, he believes keeping his kids on the right path is more important than football victories.
"I don't know what I'd do if didn't do this. I'd rather sell kids than sell cars. Sell them on being a good citizen," Macon said. "Kids feel that I have a sincere feeling about them. I love them as kids not just football players."
The Josey booster club donated money to upgrade the Eagles weight room equipment. Macon expressed his appreciation for the gift and said his team will utilize the new equipment. Weights may give you added strength but Macon's passion for the game doesn't need to be bolstered.
"As soon as I smell fresh cut grass and the band playing, I'm ready to go. I'm too old to play but I can get these kids ready," Macon said.
Barnes said he'll be too busy to be nervous his first night at the helm.
"I'm not going to approach it as a first year head coach, I'm just going to deal with the situations as they come up," Barnes said. "We're going to have a lot more to worry about than just my first game as a head coach."