Joseph Charter School is launching the 2015 football season with a new head coach, Toby Koehn, who held an assistant coaching position at JCS last year. Koehn also spent 7-8 years coaching football at Cove High School.
The team is fielding 13 players for its eight-man team with Koehn expecting as many as three more to soon enlist in the ranks. Koehn was somewhat shocked at the lack of interest in the JCS football program. “We’re large enough we could easily have 20-25 kids, and we’re trying to change that mentality and get kids excited about competition — most things in life are competitive,” Koehn said.
Media focus on injuries has probably dampened some enthusiasm for the sport, according to Koehn. Because of parental concerns, the team is participating in the “Heads Up” program that focuses on football injury reduction as well as instituting new rules on blind-side blocking and blocks away from the ball, with an emphasis on hands-first blocking rather than helmet or shoulder blocking. Koehn says these measures should make the game considerably safer.
While not without his hopes, Koehn considers this a rebuilding year. “We’re focusing on getting our fundamentals down — getting solid on our basics to build a good foundation,” he said.
Because of the team’s small numbers, Koehn is heavily focused on getting players in shape. Most of the players will play both sides of the ball for most of the game. The players understand this as well. “They know where they need to be to get in shape and be mentally prepared for the games,” Koehn said.
The JCS team is young, sporting only two seniors, Raymond Seal and Sam Beckman. The latter is the team’s probable starter at quarterback. Caden DeLury and Logan Welch are the likely backfield starters.
Several veteran players are returning as linemen, as well as a transfer with playing experience from another high school.
Five of the players are freshmen, the largest being about 125 pounds. Because of the team’s youth, Koehn plans to keep the offense simple, probably running a T-formation. “We’ve got a big learning curve, so we’ve really got to concentrate on doing things right,” he said.
With the T-formation, Koehn plans to concentrate on the running game as the staple of his offensive attack. “We’ll mix it up and try to run some play-action stuff out of our run game when the defense is crowding the ball and cheating on us. We’ll keep them honest, but we’ll adjust as the season goes on,” Koehn said.
JCS practice focused strongly on both fundamentals and cardio exercise for physical conditioning. All the players looked focused and no one uttered a complaint. Players needed little cajoling from Koehn or his assistant coach Jim Hite to stay engaged with the drills.
Because the opening game against Condon-Wheeler was canceled due to their inability to field a team, Joseph only has a six-game schedule. The team’s opener is a Sept. 11 game at Wilder, Idaho. Koehn is confident that his team can make their presence known in their 1A Special District 1 league, as well as to Joseph football fans. “If you come out to support us, I promise you’ll see some good football,” he said.