New coach and new offense — Hillcrest Huskies are ready to compete this season
Aug 15, 2018 02:54PM
● By Jana Klopsch
Usually a Husky is pulling a sled, but at football practice, there is a lot of pushing. (Bob Bedore/City Journals)
By Bob Bedore | [email protected]
It seems only fitting that while Hillcrest High School goes through a remodeling process that the football team would be going through a little retooling of its own.
But just like the rich traditions of the 56-year-old school are being kept in place with the new additions, new Husky head Coach Ron Hill is also working to take the traditions put in place and expand upon them with his new football team.
“I respect everything that Cazzie did for this school, this team, this community,” Hill said. “We will take everything he did, everything he strived for, and as a team, we will do to what we can to make him, and all of Midvale, proud.”
It was about a year ago that coach Cazzie Brown passed away and left a big hole in the community. “That scarred a lot of kids,” Hill said. “And rightfully so. We’re still working to repair that and we’re moving ahead.”
So, what can we expect from this version of the Hillcrest Huskies football team?
“We will compete strongly in every game,” Hill said. “Will we win every game? I don’t know. No coach or team can tell you that. But I will tell you that we will compete on every play, every game. And when you have a team that can do that, anything is possible.”
Once again, defense is going to be a big strength for the Huskies. New defensive coordinator Chase Jones is focusing on speed and bringing a lot of aggression to the field. The 4-3 alignment will present a lot of blitzes and stunts that should keep the opponents guessing and the fans cheering.
Changes have also been made to the offense. For the last few years Hill was an offensive coordinator and ran the triple option. This year he switched things up and will be running a spread offense. This style, usually with the quarterback further back from the center in “shotgun,” features three, four, or even five receivers spread out, forcing the defense to do the same. The goal is to hopefully open up running lanes for the backs, or for the receivers to find space on the field. It’s a great source for misdirection plays and is featured pretty much all levels of football.
The decision to change up the offense is really dictated by the personnel. “We’ve got some really great talent on this team,” Hill said. “And the best thing to do is find a way to get them the ball and just let athletes by athletes.”
“The spread is good, solid football,” said Hill. “Often, it’s not ‘fun football,’ but I think you’ll see that we’ve got some great speed on our team and we’re going to see a lot of balls in the air.”
The biggest concern facing the Huskies this year will be depth. The team carries about 60 players and was only able to field two teams and not the usual three teams. This seems to be a problem throughout the region with only one team being able to put together three teams this year.
Hillcrest is also without a large senior class and many juniors will be seen in skill positions. This could get the team off to a slower start as the young team gets set, but it also sheds some light on things to come next year when the juniors become seniors.
Hill has put together a strong coaching staff, bringing four members of his staff from Judge Memorial with him. Jeff Meyer will handle the QBs as well as strength and conditioning; Matt Lewis is in charge of the special teams and the offensive line; and, as mentioned, Chase Jones is the DC, along with coaching line backers and running backs. Both Lewis and Jones also played for Hill. The fourth coach Hill brought with him is his son, Noah Hill, who will handle the defensive backfield.
The Huskies are thrilled to still have Nella Otuaki as the defensive line coach. Also returning is Lenny Sharp as the freshman/sophomore coach and offensive coordinator.
Hill knows that a lot of eyes are on him as he takes over a team that has a lot of tradition and is still overcoming a heartbreaking event last year. But his team is ready for the challenge.
“This is a team that has bonded quickly,” he said of his players. “They have a lot of fun together, both on and off the field. They are a team. And they know when it’s time to ‘go to work.’ I really don’t think I could ask for a better group of young men, and I’m humbled to be able to be their coach. We’re going to do great things here.”