2011 Fall Preview: Hill debuts new system for Woodbury football team
Andy Hill is ready to show what he's got.
The newly minted Woodbury head coach debuts his system this fall with an East Coast coaching pedigree gleaned from seven years as a head coach in Virginia.
Fortunately for Hill, he doesn't have to do it alone in Woodbury. The 1996 Woodbury High School graduate is getting a little help from some old pals.
Among his coaching assistants are Burt Roberts, Scott Swansson and Bob Samson - all of whom coached Hill when he strapped on the Royals jersey.
"For me to work with (them) is pretty cool," he said.
Hill said he harbored a tinge of concern that some in the football program might have a hard time taking orders from someone they used to instruct. He said those worries never materialized.
"It has not even been an issue," Hill said.
Now he looks to improve on Woodbury's last year's 4-6 record. The Royals kicked off the season in Stillwater, where he faced his coaching predecessor, Beau LaBore - now head coach of the Ponies.
Hill said Royals fans should prepare to see a blended offense that could mean passing plays up to 40 percent of the time. He acknowledged that success in Minnesota prep football means being able to move the ball on the ground.
"We're not going to abandon that," he said of the Woodbury rushing attack.
Starting under center this year will be junior quarterback Sawyer Moon. Hill said Moon - who beat out seniors Joe Wood and Ryan Fritze for the starting job - was the best fit.
"I think Sawyer runs the whole package for us," Hill said, adding that Fritze and Wood will also be seeing regular snaps in games.
The rushing attack will be led by running back Junius Wilson, one of three senior captains. Connor McKeen, a wide receiver, and Jack Winger, an offensive lineman, were also voted captains. Hill said the team will rotate in a fourth captain from the senior ranks each week.
The Royals return several other varsity starters, which Hills said "provides depth for daily and weekly competition."
Key returning players include Wilson, Winger, Fritze, Wood, McKeen, linebacker Cam Maslonka, offensive linemen Willy Berzinski and Jordan Hofstead, tight end Jordan Voit, linebacker Geno DeMike, defensive end Ryan Winter, defensive tackle Kyle Schmidt and cornerback Dimeiji Islelewa.
Gone from the roster are 2011 standout graduates Jake Quast and Torsten Rotto, both of whom were named all-conference players last year.
Hill said the team's depth positions the Royals well for a strong Suburban East Conference showing.
"If we put our best foot forward I think we can compete with every team in our conference," he said.
And so far, so good, Hill said.
He said players have been adapting well to his new system.
The players also are beginning to learn the importance of conditioning and hard workouts, he added. He said the bar needed to be raised when he arrived, but players are already showing signs of progress.
"We want to still have that energy reserve in the third and fourth quarter," Hill said. "You only get that from working hard and conditioning."
Asked to size up the SEC and the section, Hill deferred, saying he doesn't have enough experience to give an educated analysis.
That doesn't mean he's not bold.
"(Woodbury) will play anybody, any time, any place," he said.
In addition to Roberts and Swansson, Hill is joined by assistant coaches Jamie Jankowski, Jason Jankowski, Bob Nickleby, Lane Swansson, Justin Smith, Greg Schmitz, Greg Van Leer, Jeff Cassellius, Barry Dillard, David Crislip, John Griffin, Rufus Bess, Ryan Knutson and Bryan Farkas. Ninth-grade coaches are Tony Holmes and Samson.