Dave Hart has a new job title this season, at the Covenant School -- head football coach.
Hart was promoted in March after four years on the varsity staff at Covenant, including spending the last three seasons as Dave Rocco's defensive coordinator. And the Eagles have been happy to see a familiar face leading practice this summer.
"Oh, I think it makes all the difference in the world, compared to having a new coach that's never been in this community before," said senior Quane Washington.
"With Coach Hart, we've known him forever," agreed fellow senior Austin Llera. "Ever since I was in seventh grade I've been playing with him. He's always been around me, just pushing me and the team, harder and harder."
But Hart says he also brought plenty of chance to the practice field at Covenant this preseason.
"Different processes in practice," he explained. "Just change of speed, change of pace. Very intense practices. We don't have to do too much conditioning afterward. They're pretty tired out and pretty worn out by the time that last whistle blows."
"We're asking a lot of them," Hart added. "We're changing a lot of things that we do here. So that makes for a tough environment, but a good environment."
Hart says one of his big changes is an increased emphasis on special teams. He's also installing a new offense, that he says will play to the Eagles' biggest strength as a team.
"Speed kills in football," he said. "And we don't have a ton of size at Covenant, but we have a lot of quick guys this year. So we're going to try to take advantage of that, in all phases of the ball. All phases of the game."
"Oh, it's going to be really fun," said Washington. "We have a lot of speed. A lot of power, too. We've got some new linemen coming in this year. So our offense is looking pretty good."
Llera (663 rushing yards and three touchdowns) and Washington (398 combined rushing and receiving yards, with five total touchdowns) are two of the play-makers the Eagles have back this fall. The Eagles are also healthy this summer, after injuries were a big reason the team struggled to a 3-7 performance in 2013.
Covenant gets a head start on the rest of the teams in Central Virginia, opening its regular season at home next Friday at 4 p.m. against Portsmouth Christian.
"I'm really looking forward to it," Hart said. "It's your first test, right? You practice and you prepare, and then you're tested. And I'm anxious to see how we do, and how we've prepared for that first test."