J-E football has new coach, higher expectations

Eagles turn to Ludden assistant Hawkins to lead the way

— Tim Hawkins served for four years as an assistant football coach at Bishop Ludden, which meant yearly contests against Class C West division rival Jordan-Elbridge. During those games, said Hawkins, he noted how tough the Eagles’ players were.

So when J-E’s head coaching job opened up after Mike Smart’s departure, Hawkins, who said he always wanted to be a head coach, went for it – and won the position. Now he’s in charge of turning the Eagles around.

“We want to change the culture and turn it into a football school,” said Hawkins.

Much of that, said Hawkins, involved building an organized and well-attended off-season program, starting with a trip to Syracuse University’s team camp by 25 players, followed by extended work in the weight room during the spring and summer months.

An anecdote by Hawkins illustrated the attitude change he wants to bring to J-E. One day early in the weight room sessions, just 10 players showed up. When he voiced his displeasure, the next day more than double that number was in attendance, and it stayed that way until practices began in mid-August.

Now, as J-E works toward this Friday’s “Tin Can Classic” opener against visiting Hannibal, it has 32 players and a renewed energy that it hopes will translate into more victories on the field.

Offensively, the Eagles will run a “Flexbone” triple-option. Hawkins said it’s difficult to game-plan against, and that it can “make a bad team good, and a good team great.”

Junior Austin Barrigar, at quarterback, is in charge of running that option. Long-term, J-E is quite set, since Barrigar is expected to start the next two years and freshman Chris Ryan will learn the ropes until he takes over in 2015.

Even with the departure of Colby Trexler, the Eagles have a deep, talented backfield, with Ryan Matousek a returning starter and two sophomores, Sam Robles and Matt Chisholm, offering support. The triple-option almost assures that each of them will get a significant number of carries.

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