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Derrck Mahone/Douglas County Sentinel Chapel Hill defensive coordinator Mike Wagner goes over an alignment with linebacker Kevin Burton during practice. Wagner is in his first season as the Panthers new defensive coordinator.

Mike Wagner’s first day on the job as Chapel Hill’s new defensive coordinator was also the first time he met any of the players.

Amid learning the names of the players he will work with on defense, he was also getting familiar with their talent.

Despite any drawbacks, Wagner called it a good few days of spring practice with his new team.

“We got a good base of seniors back,” Wagner said. “We are not changing much because we want to keep them in our comfort zone. With some hard work, we are looking to make things happen.”

Wagner moves over from South Paulding High were he headed up that Class AAAAAA school’s defense.

Chapel Hill will look to stay in its base defense with a few new tweaks.

“Look, cover two is cover two and cover three is cover three,” Wagner said. “It will just be a matter of a few terminology change. Some people call it an apple while other name it an orange. We are basically going to be the same.”

And for good reason.

The Panthers return the majority of its defense from last year’s playoff team. Chapel Hill returns about nine starters from its defensive unit including Kevin Burton back from an injury that sidelined him a good part of the season.

In addition, cornerback Miles Richardson is back after leading the team with five interceptions. As a unit, the Panthers had 13 picks on the season.

“It is mostly a change in the terminology that we use. Coach Wagner wants us to fly around and make plays. He is bringing a lot of juice to our defense.”

Chapel Hill has one more week of spring drills before taking on Alexander on May 18 in the spring game. The Panthers will face a high-powered offense that features one of the top sophomore receivers in the state in Jalen Morgan.

Through the first few days of practice, Chapel Hill coach Justin Deshon has been pleased at what he has seen.

“I think the guys enjoy playing for coach Wagner,” Deshon said. “The defense is an experienced group. The kids really love his personality.”

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