Joe Tillman is keeping a positive attitude while preparing for his second season as head football coach of the Pawhuska High School Huskies.
“We’re probably going to have less talent on the field than we did last fall, but I think we’ll be better as a team,” said Tillman.
By a 4-0 vote of the Pawhuska Board of Eduction, Tillman recently received a one-year renewal on a volunteer coaches contract for himself and two assistants, Ladd Drummond and John Long.
The contract renewal was approved at a special meeting on April 3 after action had been tabled during February’s regular school board session.
During Tillman and Co.’s first season, the 2016 PHS varsity squad finished 2-7. When Tillman became coach, he was the fifth different head coach of the Huskies in the past six seasons.
After experiencing a stready string of success as coaches in the local elementary school program, Tillman and his associate volunteers found coaching at the higher level to be frustrating, at times.
“What I found most frustrating was the attitude,” Tillman said. “The first thing we need to tackle is the way some of these kids have been conditioned to think.
“Until we do that, we can’t have the kind of winning program we’re talking about,” he added. “And, it’s all about commitment — because we’re talking about hard work.”
Tillman added, however, that proper physical conditioning for the Huskie players could yield immediate results.
“They’ve got to get stronger in the weight room and better in their conditioning programs before we can even have a chance to succeed,” the coach continued. “From there, we can work out way toward the finesse areas and get into the mental preparation.”
Tillman said he’s fortunate that Drummond has provided the program with a 9,000-square-foot weight room. He added, however, that some “public fundraisers will be needed to stock it.”
“But, this is something we need to get these kids excited about becoming winners: to get them into the weight room, we’ve got to offer them something sexy, like the facility we’re going to be building.”
The second-year coach said he and his staff have been able to consult with experts at Oklahoma State University about the weight facility and other elements of the program.
Regarding the program’s upcoming spring practice schedule, Tillman said the football coaches will fit the limited number of football workouts (10) allowed by the state around the other spring sports’ programs. He added, however, that some changes are in store for his second PHS season.
“We’ve changed to an offense that will focus more on the running game and up-front blocking,” the coach said. “We want to put in a system that will allow the kids we have to excel.”
One thing that Tillman said would not change is the emphasis on classroom achievement.
“We’ll continue to stress that academics come first,” he said. “One thing we want to avoid are classroom casualties.”