It didn’t take long for Tom McVey to realize how passionate the town of Crowell is about its football team.
The former Santa Anna coach is the program’s new leader, taking over for Nathan Hayes after the two-time state champion left for Coolidge.
“I’ve met quite a few people in my short time here that love football,” said McVey, who was hired in the middle of June. “There’s a want-to-win culture here, and that’s what people want to build on.”
The Wildcats want to build on last year’s 7-4 season, a record most six-man programs would be satisfied with, but a relatively tame one for a program that advanced to three consecutive title games from 2013-15.
They won’t have Skyler Hayes, the game-changing spreadback that led Crowell in almost every single statistical category. Evan de los Santos is also gone, but nearly everyone else who contributed in 2017 is ready to begin the McVey Era.
The new coach didn’t have much time to watch last year’s game film, which meant this year’s group started with a blank slate. McVey almost preferred it that way.
It’s possible there will be some growing pains that comes with a regime change, and Crowell’s district toughened up with the move to Division I. Knox City and Paducah are among the obstacles standing in the way of a sixth consecutive district title.
But after the first few August practices were in the books, the Wildcats’ new coach was energized by what he’d witnessed.
“It’s been fun so far and the kids are really excited,” McVey said. “I’m pretty impressed with what I’ve seen.”
McVey admits there’s no one who can replace Skyler Hayes, but he’s hoping multiple returners can pick up part of the slack left by the three-year starter who took over for his older brother Tristen running the offense last fall.
Quarterback Seth Bearden threw for 535 yards and nine touchdowns as a freshman, while Michael Reeves proved to be a rushing/receiving threat scoring 10 total touchdowns. Running back Jemal Lane, end Harley Chapman and Russkin Turula are expected to have important roles.
“We’ll probably run a little more spread than what they’re used to. We’ll mix up our tight and spread stuff,” McVey said. “I think they put a lot on Skyler – that was his role. We’ll try to make it if (defenses) try to zoom in on Michael or Russkin, we’ll have other weapons.”
McVey feels like the Wildcats’ defense will be ahead of the curve because the 2-3 formation that assistant Anthony Barrera already had installed will remain.
Harley Chapman (54 tackles) and Lane (51) are among the top returning tacklers. Lane picked off a team-high four passes and Reeves had three interceptions.
Crowell was one of five area teams that lost to eventual state champions in the playoffs, get... Click here to read full article