It all starts with the right attitude.
As the Frontier Falcons football team come into the new season, the biggest question for new coach Chuck Tilley is how will he get his new squad back on track after back-to-back 1-7 seasons.
The answer starts with a positive attitude and builds from there.
“The same thing I told my kids at Eden. When I took over they had been 1-7 for three years in a row,” Tilley said.
“I said listen, there’s a path that we have to follow and it’s not an easy path. But there’s only one way to get to where we want to be and it’s going to be a mixture of hard work and discipline. They bought into it and that team went 9-0 and went to the stadium. I shared that message with the kids at Frontier in March and I said to them ‘hey can you do what a bunch of little farm kids in Eden did?’ They went down from B to C and went 9-0. You guys went down from AA to A. I’m walking into the same situation. In fact, I might be walking into a situation with slightly more talent here. Are you guys up to the same challenge? I said its gonna be a matter of being disciplined and working very hard and immediately buying into what I’m doing and not questioning it because everything because it’s different. So far I think they’re doing it very, very well.”
Tilley said the key will be for the kids to immediately buy into his message. A big part of earning their trust, Tilley said, was getting to know his new team as people during offseason workouts.
Each day in the weight room wasn’t just about lifting. From asking about their job to their dog, Tilley showed a genuine interest in each player as a person.
The Falcons had a busy, but productive stretch since March of weight room, 7-on-7 league, as well as a three day passing camp in June, a two day camp in July and another two day camp in August.
“Going into our first practice (on Aug. 13) we’ve already laid a tremendous amount of groundwork offensively and defensively,” Tilley said.
Leading the way for the Falcons will be a trio of veterans who are focused on righting the ship during their senior year; Tyler Bailey (RB/OLB), Will Linton (DL/OL) and Jacob Stamboulis (OG/NT).
Max Fleming will be at inside linebacker and fullback while Jacob Ludlow returns at tight end and outside linebacker.
Brennen Kilcoyne will get the nod at quarterback.
Returning a core group of players who have experienced losing seasons can go one of two ways. They either fall back into a rut of losing because they don’t know how to climb out. Or, it serves as motivation to stop losing now.
“Here’s the truth,” Tilley candidly said. “I’ve been doing this for a long time and I’m not gonna know until we face adversity. Right now these kids are buying into what I’m selling and they’re giving me exactly what I want. But until we have to deal with an adverse situation I’m truly not going to know what these kids are made of.”
Reflecting on his first season at Eden, Tilley said beating JFK 50-0 on opening night is what set the tone for the rest of the season.
Which is why Tilley said it is crucial for his Falcons to win, and win big on opening night. Not only to for their confidence but to cement it in the eyes of the players that his message is the right one for this team.
“If you do, they buy into whatever it is that you’re selling,” he said.
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