New Hillcrest coach to rebuild on fundamentals
Southern Sports & Travel
Tommy Roberts knows all too well just how successful Hillcrest Christian School has been on the basketball court and on the diamond. Hillcrest has been a stalwart in competing for championships in basketball and baseball for over a decade but for the 33 year old who played his high school football at Wayne County High the task at hand is one he is ready to tackle head on.
Hillcrest named Roberts the new head football coach just last week and in the midst of moving from Kissimmee, Florida back home to Mississippi the former offensive coordinator at Liberty High School is preparing to assess players while at the same time instill a new attitude for Hillcrest football.
“We must change the culture here at Hillcrest,” said Roberts. “Hillcrest has had so much success in basketball and baseball that there’s no reason we can’t do the same in football.”
Roberts sees his first task as building the roster number from recent levels to fielding a team of 30-50 players and to do that will require kids to believe in his system and the hard work required to rebuild.
The building block will center on fundamentals and Roberts believes there is still a place for “old school” football. “We will focus on three fundamentals,” said Roberts. “Run the football, stop the run and win the kicking game.”
The 2002 graduate of Belhaven had his eyes on coaching Hillcrest football four years ago but after interviewing for the job Hillcrest hired Johnny Mills instead. “That didn’t deter me,” said Roberts. “I’ve always wanted to coach at Hillcrest and now that I have the job I want it to be my last move and last job.”
The 4-47 record for Hillcrest over the past five seasons tells the story but Roberts didn’t have to search far for encouragement. The Hillcrest junior varsity program has enjoyed success recently and in that he sees the perfect path to rebuilding and being successful.
“I want to change attitudes and lives,” said Roberts. “Our junior varsity program is critical and I’ll be heavily involved in it but we need to develop some senior leadership and they must believe in me.”
Another area that Roberts wants to focus on is competing with other MAIS schools in the Jackson area that dominate much of the attention with regards to media coverage and on July 9 his reign officially begins when the Cougars hit the weight room and focus on some skill work before the official first day of practice begins on July 30.
“We’re pretty much set with our coaching staff but we may bring in some older coaches as volunteers and when the season starts we’ll put a product out there that resembles a team that’s been coached,” said Roberts.
Roberts plans on implementing a multiple offense featuring the I-Formation and the Spread while running a 4-2 and 4-3 defensive scheme.
Coach Roberts joins the Hillcrest family with his wife Rebekah and their five year old daughter Claire.