One Pack, One Goal: Hillcrest Football’s Growth as a Reputable Program
Sep 29, 2016 05:29PM ● Published by Sarah Almond
The 2016 coaching staff poses for a group photo during an afternoon practice. Head coach Cazzie Brown (third left) has high expectations for how his players are to act both on and off the field and, along with his fellow coaching staff, is eager to set an example of what the Hillcrest football program represents. (hillcresthuskiesfooball.com)
Gallery: One Pack, One Goal: Hillcrest Football’s Growth as a Reputable Program [2 Images] Click any image to expand.
By Sarah Almond | firstname.lastname@example.org
For the Hillcrest High School football team, the 2016 season has been anything but ordinary. With a new coaching staff and a roster that’s twice the normal size, the Huskies are working through the growing pains to build a reputable program with respectable players.
“Things are going pretty good for us this season,” head coach Cazzie Brown said. “We’re living the dream.”
This is Brown’s first season as head coach for the Huskies. The Texas native is Hillcrest football’s third head coach in four years, but his experience and passion for the game is something that the team can unify behind.
Brown is a former Idaho State University player, former Professional Indoor Football League player, and has coached at East, Highland, and Judge Memorial high schools.
“It’s a work in progress, obviously, but it’s going pretty good,” Brown said, while talking about his first few months as head coach. “It’s been fun being able to help these guys see their potential and work together for something bigger than themselves.”
For junior and senior players who have been under differing coaching instruction virtually every year they’ve played at Hillcrest, Brown’s stringent yet enthusiastic style of leadership seems to be exactly what the struggling team needed.
“He [Brown] always preaches ‘One pack, one goal!’” senior running back Booker McGuire said. “I feel like no one believed in it at first, but everyone is starting to buy in.”
After being hired on as head coach in early January 2016, Brown has been working hard to change the culture of the team.
“There were 39 kids in the program when I got the job in January - now we have 84 top-to-bottom,” Brown said. “We’ve been recruiting in the hallways and getting people interested in Hillcrest football.”
Growing the team was just the beginning of Brown’s goals as the new head coach; one of his main objectives is to build a team with remarkable character both on and off the field.
“In January we started doing our study hall at 5:30 a.m. for kids who had unsatisfactory grades,” Brown said.
Brown also made it very clear to the team that respect was the bottom line; to be a player on Hillcrest, boys must be respectful to themselves, each other, the coaching staff, fellow students, teachers, family and community.
“For the seniors who’ve had three different head coaches in their four years, it’s been hard for them to get some consistency,” Brown said. “That takes away from the buy in. So we are here to bring some consistency to the team. We are here; we’ve got coaches in the building to help model the behavior that we want the kids to follow.”
Brown says that this inconsistency is something he’s addressed with the team.
“I’ve told the guys that I understand they’ve had a tough go at things, but ideally that’s not something they have control over,” Brown said. “So we’ve talked a lot about controlling the uncontrollables and taking care of their business that they have control over.”
Though Brown admits that beginning to change the Huskies’ culture has been no easy feat, he’s been incredibly pleased with how far the team has come and is proud of how the boys have bought into what Brown is hoping to achieve.
“I feel like things are moving in the right direction,” McGuire said. “I mean, our record might not show for it, but I feel like Coach Brown is teaching us the most important thing, which is to be good men.”
The Huskies play their final home game against Olympus High School on September 30 at 7 p.m. at the Hillcrest High School football stadium located at 7350 South 9th East in Midvale.