Transforming from one offensive football system to another always takes time. Chicago football fans can certainly relate while watch quarterback Jay Cutler go from 26 interceptions thrown in 2010 with the Bears to 16 interceptions in his second year in Mike Martz's offense.
head football coach Brett Hefner believes that his offense is now ready to take its game to the next level during its third year in their system.
"There’s not a whole lot of re-teaching," Hefner said. "It’s cleaning things up, so that’s a huge part."
Patch caught up with Hefner to get his take on the Knight's development during the summer, and how far he thinks the team can go in the playoffs this year.
Patch: What are your goals and expectations for this year’s 2012 Lincoln Way Central varsity football team?
Brett Hefner: Our goals here are always the same every year. Our goals are to compete for and win a conference championship, and compete and win a state championship. So, those are our season goals, and we break it down week-to-week. We stress to our kids that we’re just trying to go 1-0. We’re worried about the game that week, and just try and get the win for that week.
What is one point of emphasis that you really want to get across to your players?
The biggest thing that we have to do to improve on is the offense turning the ball over. Eliminating turnovers, and then on the flip side we have to create more defensive turnovers. A lot of the time we stress turnovers on both sides of the ball and then tackling.
Why should other teams be afraid of the 2012 Lincoln Way Central Knights varsity football team?
What we have back defensively should catch people’s attention. And then just the third year in the system offensively. Our guys have a lot better grasp and understanding of the system. I think people are going to see a big difference in comparison here.
What matchup on the schedule are you looking forward to the most?
There’s really not. Like I said, we’re worried right now about us. And then in a week-and-a-half we’ll start worrying about Lincoln-Way North. From there, we’re just going to try and go 1-0 and take it week-to-week.
How important is your team’s chemistry and how has it progressed throughout the summer?
Team chemistry is huge. It’s a great question because I think that’s something that sometimes gets overlooked. I think we have great chemistry because of the number of guys we have back. We’ve got a group that has done quite a bit together.
Which player has the biggest shoes to fill in terms of who they replaced on the team from last year?
I would say it’s two spots, really. Offensive line-wise, we graduated everybody. So our offensive line has some pretty big shoes to fill. And then we had a tailback run for 1,300 yards, so our running backs got shoes to fill.
Which position do you think your team has the most depth at?
We’ve got a little more depth at the skill positions such as wide receiver and defensive back.
What is your team’s biggest strength and weakness?
The number of people that we have back defensively. I wouldn’t call it a weakness, maybe a question mark, but right now would be how quickly our offensive line develops.
What does your team need to improve on in order to do well this year?
Offensively – take care of the ball better. And, we’ve got to be a little bit more multiple with the skill guys back, we think we can do that. Defensively, we gave up too many big plays last year, but if we don’t give up too many turnovers – we should be alright.
From what you’ve seen thus far, does this team have what it takes to win a state championship?
Sure I do. Why else would you play the game? That ought to be your goal going into every year, and if you don’t believe it – why should anybody else?
Lincoln-Way Central plays its first game of the season on Friday, August 24 at 7:30 p.m. when they host the Phoenix.