OREGON, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF)– Sometimes football programs just need a fresh start. The Oregon Hawks are getting one with a new head coach.
The Hawks haven’t had a winning season since 2014. They haven’t won more than three games in a season since 2014, But there’s a bit of a buzz here due largely to the arrival of new head coach Broc Kundert. Kundert spent the last four years as the head coach at Aquin His teams there won 27 games over those four years.
Kundert spent the spring and summer forming relationships with the kids. Now the program’s numbers are up significantly.
“We’re right between 70 to 75 which is pretty good for what they’ve had in the past,” said Kundert. “It’s a lot of excitement. We’ve got a good sophomore group that’s got about 30 kids. That’s a real strong group that we’ve got right now.”
Those sophomores were 7-2 last year as freshmen. Kundert gives credit for the rising numbers to his returning players. They convinced other young men at the school to give football a shot.
“I kind of just put it on the kids. What do you want out of your season? So, get on your buddies that have played before. Come out.”
“The new coaches wanted new people out, so we talked to a bunch of people, hyped everyone up to get out for the team,” said returning lineman Evan Flaharty.
Oregon has always had a ground-and-pound offense. Kundert ran a spread at Aquin. The Hawks’ offense this year will be a mixture.
“We’re going to be in the gun,” said Kundert. “I don’t know that it’ll be the high-flying Aquin stuff, but we’re still going to pound the ball when we need to. We’re going to throw when we need to.”
Running back/linebacker Gabe Eckerd likes the changes in the offense. “What’s going to be different is more passing. In the past we haven’t done a lot of passing. Now it’s probably going to be 50-50 pass and run the ball.”
Eckerd, Trevor Burkhart, and Anthony Bauer will get most of the carries in the run game. Jack Washburn, part of the heralded sophomore class, will most likely start at quarterback.
The Hawks look solid on the lines. Seniors Evan Flaharty and Johnny Alaniz return. There are high hopes for sophomore Briggs Sellers. Josh Crandall is another sophomore to keep an eye on on this team.
Kundert says the Hawks will shoot for the playoffs, but the main goal is to make daily progress.
“I just want to see the guys compete. Every play. Every game. Every practice there’s got to be competition. We’ve got to want to compete.”