Dan Appino took the Auburn Knights to new heights the last six years. Now it’s up to one of Appino’s proteges to keep the Knights at that high level.
JP Toldo is now the Knights’ head coach after serving as an assistant under Appino at both Auburn and at Boylan. The one thing that’s apparent about Toldo immediately is his enthusiasm and passion for coaching.
“It’s awesome! It’s a ton of fun!,” says Toldo. “It’s hot out here. It’s the second time they’ve been out here today, so if I can’t run around and be uptempo how can I expect them to do it.”
The players like the fact that Toldo seems to favor a more wide-open offense.
“Coach Toldo is more open. He opens the playbook for us,” says running back Davonte Stanfield. “He’s trying some new things with this class.”
“He’s more of an offense guy, so we have the run and the pass,” says running back Brian Lee.
The first thing that jumped out to me when I watched the Knights’ practice was their team speed. They appear to have an abundance of it.
“We’ve got a lot of speed,” says Stanfield. “We’ve got a lot of skilled players. Now we’re not big, but we’re fast.”
“We do have some guys that can play and some guys that can go, so we’re just hoping to get them the ball in space and let them do what they do,” says Toldo.
Toldo says the starting quarterback job is to-be-determined. Whomever it is will be handing off to an experienced group of backs that includes Donnell Hill. He was the conference’s fifth leading rusher last year with 804 yards. There is also Brian Lee, Stephen Stephens and Maurice Huntley. At receiver Angelo Graves is back along with Stanfield and basketball player Maurice Williams.
Under Appino it was defense that carried the Knights to two conference championships. Defense will still be at the forefront under Toldo.
“We want to be really aggressive. We want to let our guys fly around. That’s something that we pride ourself on year after year,” says Toldo.
“Most definitely we can compete for the conference championship,” says Stanfield. “We’ve got a chip on our shoulder so we can show the NIC-10 what we can do.”