CRESTVIEW — New Crestview High School head football coach Tim Hatten leads the Bulldogs onto the field for the first time today with the opening of spring football practice 2013.
The new coach expects to have between 100 and 120 players who will be 10th- through 12th-graders in the fall.
Getting to know the coach
Hatten, who has been on the job since March 11, is pleased with what he's seen from the team during the off season.
"I like the enthusiasm of the kids," he said. “I like their work ethic... We are just going to have to take it one day at a time and see how everybody develops."
Hatten said a large part of spring will be spent finding a comfort level between him and the players.
"More than anything else, they have got to get to know me and what to expect," he said. "It's not going to be a big adjustment for me. I've been coaching for 25 years.
"I feel comfortable with this group of kids. They need to get to know me, and what I expect from them as football players, because we (coaches) are all different."
Hatten said he believes his offense strategy will be fun and easy for players to pick up.
"It's going to be the easiest offense for them to learn," he said. "What I try to do in my off season is try to make it a little bit easier for the kids.
"Sometimes it's a little bit harder for coaches because we fit it for kids."
Hatten has spent his first six weeks at Crestview teaching the players his offense during their football class.
Now, the competition for starting positions really begins.
Finding a starting quarterback
Perhaps the most pressing need is to find a starting quarterback to replace Dakota Davis.
Rising senior Khalil Foster, a backup quarterback in 2011, probably enters spring drills as the front runner for the job, but the competition will be wide open.
Corey Armstrong, a rising sophomore, could be in the mix as well, but he won't join the football team until the Crestview baseball team's season ends. Hatten said he would be wouldn't mind if Armstrong missed all of spring practice, as that would mean the baseball team was making a deep run into the playoffs.
The Bulldogs will spend the first three days of practice in the mandatory helmets and shorts. Monday, they will put on the full gear for the first time and start hitting.
Hatten said he tries to limit his practices to two hours, but occasionally, when working with many players, practices might go an extra 15 or 30 minutes.
Hatten understands it takes a team time to learn a new offense, and he's not expecting the Bulldogs to be anywhere near the finished product by spring’s end.
"I think what we do on offense is really, really player-friendly, and I've seen that for 25 years," he said. "I've certainly seen that for the last month-and-a-half with the installation process. It's certainly going to take us to probably the spring game to have any continuity in how well we execute.
"And we aren't going to be a really good executing team by the time the spring game comes here, but the time next year comes here, I think we will be OK."
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at email@example.com, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.