By Jeremy McDonald
STAYTON, Ore.– Jeff Wiltsey has seen the best of times, and he’s seen not so best of times at Regis.
In his seven years as an assistant football coach with the Rams, he’s seen the squad go deep into the playoffs…even winning the 2A State Title game in 2016. The past few years, he’s seen the squad try to turn the page back to where they were at in previous years.
And with them being realigned into a conference that has playoff teams in Toledo, Santiam, Kennedy, Wiltsey knows that those programs are hitting on all cylinders before this break started.
“There are so many programs all around us who are hitting on all cylinders right now,” said Wiltsey. “Many of them are playing the right way and seem to make deep runs into the playoffs year after year. Our biggest challenges are also our biggest opportunities. Being able to play a quality schedule year in and year out really benefits our guys.
“Getting our program back will require an inside out approach. Continuing to build relationships with the administration, staff, families and most importantly the players will be at the heart of our culture change. Analytics, fundamentals and a ton of old-fashioned hard work will also be necessary.”
Inside-out approach. Building that fundamental approach that will eventually lead to the on-the-field success.
It’s something that he learned from legendary Regis coaches Don Heuberger (baseball) and Mike Bauer (Track and Field and Cross Country). It’s how they treated their student-athlete’s that helped build that on-field success they were known for.
Something he hopes to carry over with his coaching philosophy starting this upcoming season.
“Coach Heuberger and Bauer really are a great model for all the coaches here of what it looks like to be a servant leader for the kids and the Regis community. They must have over 60 years of commitment to the school,” Wiltsey said. “Our staff/program can learn a lot from them moving forward. Both have maintained a winning tradition within a faith-based framework.
“We are going to work hard as a staff to make practices, meetings and film something that guys are excited about doing on a daily basis. Taking the monotony out and making things fun does a lot for keeping our numbers up and keeping football an attractive choice for the guys at our school.”
Good leaders to follow after for sure as Wiltsey takes over the Rams football players this upcoming Fall. But as tricky as these times are with schools closed and opportunities to connect with his athlete’s interested in the Fall when they kick off the season, the first-year Head Coach is being creative in how he’s able to connect with his athletes in this transitional time.
“The downtime has been a setback. Most of our guys were involved in spring sports and offseason lifting. It’s been a big disappointment not being able participate in any of that stuff. As a staff we will be forced to be super-efficient, and creative, installing new offensive and defensive schemes. We will be ready come September 4.”
September 4 is only five months away. It’s a blessing as well as a curse knowing how quickly it can fly by when you are preparing for the season.
For Wiltsey and the rest of the Regis program, September will be here before they know it. With the calendar flipping over to May, Wiltsey already knows the starting point when they meet up here soon enough.
“We need to overcome adversity through mental toughness, be better at blocking and tackling, and form a better connection as a team. I like our chances at unlocking the greatness that is already in place here,” he said.