Although football season is done, things have still been rolling for Eastside Eagles coach Troy Hoff. After finishing the 2016 campaign with a 7-4-1 mark after a narrow first round playoff loss to Spalding, Hoff has been busy helping his seniors get ready to finalize their recruiting processes, making plans for winter conditioning and getting special accolades from the Atlanta Falcons.
We had a chance to sit and chat with Hoff before the Thanksgiving break began about the season that was, his Falcons recognition and more.
The Covington News: Obviously the season didn’t end the way you wanted it to end. What’s the lasting sentiment you have of this 2016 football season?
HOFF: “Well, it’s always a tough situation when you get down to this time and each week you’re basically playing a one game season. And especially with a good group of seniors team that faced a lot of adversity, injuries and different things going on, it’s tough when you see it come to an end. But our staff was tremendously proud of the way these guys competed. They were fighting all the way to the end against Spalding, and we just ran out of time and probably ran out of players.”
TCN: How hard is it to get a first round draw against a team as talented as Spalding?
HOFF: “It’s tough. Like I said, we had a lot of guys down with injuries in the season and even in the game who played a lot of snaps for us. We were banged up and lost a few more. But when it comes down to a game like that against a team like that, it was definitely a tough draw. Part of the secret to the playoffs and having success and making that deep push is, you’ve got to stay healthy, you’ve gotta be playing good football at that time, which I think we were, and you’ve gotta have the right kind of matchup. That said, Spalding is a very good football team, and that was a very tough first round matchup for us.”
TCN: What was the reaction of the players, particularly your seniors, once it was all done?
HOFF: “You know, when it sets in and you realize it’s done, you know, it’s just kind of the nature of the game when you hit the playoffs. Like I said, every week is a one game season and you don’t know how long it’s going to go. Crazy things happen. Obviously our guys, especially our seniors, were very disappointed. We feel like it was a game we could’ve won, but it comes down to two teams fighting it out, and at the end of day the difference was in a couple of plays we didn’t make that Spalding did. But our seniors can look back at what they accomplished and see that they did some great things. We played a lot of good football, and they gained friends forever. This game of football is kinda different in that these guys are always going to be family.”
TCN: You definitely had a talented group of seniors. What’s next for them? How many of the them have a chance to play at the next level?
HOFF: “Right now it just depends on what some of them want to do. Quite a few are being actively recruited. Of course you know about Eric who’s got a lot of offers. He’s being highly recruited. Then Josh Smith committed to James Madison. Tiaje Thomas has had some D-2 offers. He got hurt this year and is bouncing back from that. Some of our guys are getting a ton of attention from a lot of the Division II and (FCS) schools, so a lot of these guys will have some options if that’s what they want to do.”
TCN: How about that recognition you got from the Atlanta Falcons? That seemed like a pretty cool thing. How special was that for you?
HOFF: “I’m not completely sure yet what all it entails. I know we’ll get to go to a game, and I think we get a $1,000 equipment allotment. I talked with the Falcons people one time, and apparently somebody nominated me. Maybe they voted on me before our game last week. But they pick one a week, and I guess I was the lucky one this time. For me, it represents our kids and our coaching staff, support network and program. I feel fortunate to be a part of our program, and I feel fortunate to be recognized in this way. I’m really honored to get it from Falcons, because they do a lot for the community, and a lot for the game that you don’t always see. We always see what happens on Sundays and game day, but they are absolutely fantastic, with our high school coaches and kids. They’ve always got camps and outreaches going on, and it feels great to have our local NFL team so intimately involved with our city and community.”
TCN: Finally, Coach, how long before you start shifting your sights toward the 2017 season?
HOFF: “We’ve got some time here. We had a team meeting right before the Thanksgiving break. I think we have a good group of guys coming back who have already been here. Good thing about these guys coming back is they’re gym rats. They like being here, they like working and working out and that won’t change. After Thanksgiving we’ve got three weeks to Christmas, some of our kids are getting weight training in class right now, but once we get through Christmas, we’ll look to January and start getting things going again.”