2019 High School Football Media Days

Springwood School’s O.J. Tolbert, head coach John Gartman, Coleman Hull and Jordan Plank pose together during the first day of the 2019 Fox Sports High School Football Media Days on Tuesday at Southern Union State Community College in Opelika.

“We’re going to stick to what we do and just try to do it really well. I think if you get to the point where the kids know their offense and defense inside and out and they're playing disciplined, they'll get better. You'll win the games you should and maybe have a chance to win some you shouldn't.”

John Gartman, Springwood head coach


Second-year Springwood head coach John Gartman’s offensive strategy often boils down to five words: Give the ball to O.J.

Junior O.J. Tolbert has been a grinder at running back, and that was the case again in 2018. Tolbert took 137 carries for 1,006 yards and 10 touchdowns last season, and Gartman expects to keep the back heavily involved this fall.

“He'll definitely be the focus of our offense,” Gartman said of Tolbert. “He's a great player, and he's just a junior. He's going to get plenty of carries this year because I love to run the ball as it is. He'll get a lot of touches, and I expect him to make a lot of big plays for us.”

While Tolbert is a key to Springwood’s offense, he isn’t alone. Kannon Key will also get carries in the offense and is sure to create his own big plays.

Gartman pointed to third-year starting quarterback Jordan Plank and added the two have a better understanding of what each wants to do offensively, which could mean a big season for Plank. Plank had to get used to playing under center in Gartman’s Wing-T offense, but Gartman has incorporated some shotgun-formation concepts to play into some of Plank’s strengths.

Plank’s younger brother, Ethan, also drew praise from Gartman. Gartman expects Ethan to play wingback while also being a backup at several positions.


Due to roster size, the Wildcats have plenty of players going both ways. Gartman is hopeful for big showings up front from Trevo Williams Andre Mills as well as Tolbert, Chalyb Lenker and Coleman Hull at linebacker.

Gartman is turning over full control to defensive coordinator Galen Smith, who is looking to make the most of Springwood’s personnel. Gartman expects the defense to switch from a 3-4 look to a 3-5 setup in which Smith plans to be more blitz-heavy.

“We'll be a little bit undersized, so I think that approach will probably be best for us,” Gartman said. “We're going to have to move some guys. We can't really sit there and read and all that. We don't really have the size to run the defense I prefer, so we're going to have to do things a little bit different.”

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