The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
by Dessa Rodeffer, Quill Publisher/Owner
Meet the new West Central Heat Football Coach and High School Assistant Principal and Athletic Director Jason Kirby
Coach Kirby comes to the West Central high school with a lot of enthusiasm and a lineage of success. He has coached at four different schools and has taken 10 teams to the playoffs finishing 2nd in 3A in 2004 with Bureau Valley.
He is excited to work with students and help them be a part of a team that can begin a winning tradition at West Central.
After West Central ended an 18 game losing streak in their opening game this past weekend, Kirby said, "It's refreshing!"
"I like our kids, they are good kids," Kirby said. "And it's exciting to see when they start realizing when they put in the effort, they can be successful. "A light comes on and they'll just think they are invincible."
"It's our jobs as coaches to give them that confidence and that belief they can compete with anybody they play," Kirby said.
It's up to the coaching staff to give them the techniques, he said, but ultimately, once they step on the football field and the coaches are on the sidelines, it's up to the players to make it happen.
Kirby said in practicing through the heat and humidity of August, he is concerned about their health and keeping them fit to play. He said an hour and a half is long enough and in early practice, he would divide the workout into two practices.
Kirby is also mindful of the senior memories this makes for the teams players who its their last year attempt at high school football.
For seniors, they can be a start of a strong football program. Kirby wants them to see when they come back in twenty years, that they were the start of a successful program here at West Central and continued success is here because of the foundation they built.
Including several seniors, Kirby has encouraged around 40 players to come out this year for football.
Coach Kirby is pleased with the good attitude, the time and hard work they've put in and he is seeing their growth in confidence paying off. It's when they've learned if the ball doesn't bounce just the right way or a mistake is made they can mentally persevere regardless of the obstacles-be determined to stop at nothing.
Kirby is one of those rare coaches who knows it's not all about the playbook, and according to several observers, you'll find him the most verbal and excited at practices, in the weight room, and at the game.
He's concerned about the hype which includes the music which he selects to pump them up before a game, and as one player explains, he doesn't want them to relax or let their guard down, but he likes to keep the players elevated so they'll less likely to make mistakes.
He also wants "The Heat" to know that in order to be winners, they need to see each as an important part of the team-each player is needed.
"If we work together, then we are going to be successful," Kirby said.
That said, Kirby reminds it takes both the offense and the defense to be successful.
It's understandable to be excited about the guy who carrys that ball across the finish line, but he added:. "Games are won because those five guys who put their hands on the ground, know what they're doing."
It was two great runs across the end zone for #52 James Porter, and then #31 Zack Vancil that added the first two 6's on the score board in the first quarter Friday night. But, it was the following three quarters of tough defense that held North Fulton to 8 points, revenging last year's 24-6 loss to the Wildcats at Cuba.
Friday night was a long night of lightning delays that pushed "The Heat" back on the field on Saturday to play out their 1:85 minute game and to see if The Heat could hold onto their 12-8 lead.
They did, and their success is already in the record books, and their first victory since Oct. 25, 2013.
Words like "experienced", "leadership", "firey", "fun", "inspiring", "intense", "an ever present passion and energy" and "determination" have been used to describe Coach Kirby. He "knows what it takes to win".
Coach Kirby is definitely motivating as he teaches players life-long lessons while giving them a fun experience. He tells them to gain those successes and some of those nice things you may want, it is going to take work and a williness to do things you are not necessarily comfortable doing.
He expects them to perform but at the same time you will hear him say good words about them such as: "they have good hearts", "good attitudes", "hard working."
"I'm happy," Kirby told WRMJ in an interview for 102.3 FM.
"They are good kids-they want to listen-they're hungry," Kirby said. "Anytime someone is hungry I feel they have the opportunity to be successful. It's a wonderful sport in a sense it's a team game, but if you have a bunch of guys that are working together for the same cause you have a great chance to be successful."
"Talent is fine," Kirby went on to say, "but if you have 11 guys working together and you have a little bit of talent, you're going to win."
Kirby said, "If I can get that idea if we're all together, no one can break us, then I really do believe, we are going to have a successful year."
At the beginning of Kirby's last job in East Moline as United Township head coach, he said, "Any time you are part of a rebuilding process and see that take shape and succeed, it's wonderful. But to be in a situation like this, where the kids out here on the practice field are truly the only people who think they can succeed, when we do, it's going to be a wonderful deal."
Here at West Central, the Athletic Boosters are working hard to support Coach Kirby and this tenacious group of determined football players.
The boosters are joining the staff and West Central cheerleaders in inviting residents around the school district from the north to the south to come this Friday to pack the sidelines at WIU Leatherneck football stadium Friday as they face South Fulton/Astoria at 7 p.m. in Macomb.
After that, they hope to see you at "The Heat" home and away games this season and take a part in rebuilding and igniting "The Heat" to victory.
Coach Jason Kirby is being assisted in coaching duties by: Tom Williams, Josh Harkness, Matt Link, Joe Hess, David Vancil, Jr., and Steve Arnold.
The thirty-seven listed on The Heat roster includes:
#1 Tavian Davolt-SLOT/LB
#5 Chandler Diehl-QR/DB
#7 Easton Bielser-WR/DB
#30 Zach Vancil-RB/DB
#52 James Porter-OL/DL
#53 Jordan Sells-OL/DL
#63 Dean Miller-OL/DL
#64 Layton Tallman-OL/LB
#71 Jonathon Anderson-OL/DL
#76 Seth Peterson-OL/DL
#80 Luke Arnold-WR/DB
#2 Ben Krieger-WR/DB
#12 Aylan Wilkins-SLOT/LB
#37 Parker Davis-OL/LB
#38 Tyler Hartman-SLOT/DB
#54 Nicholas Brokaw-OL/DL
#55 Tim Magee-OL/DL
#60 Mason Butler-OL/DL
#3 Dawson Link-SLOT/DB
#9 Damien Fues-SLOL/LB
#14 Brayden McConnell-WR/DB
#22 Nathan Sherman-SLOL/LB
#24 Luke Dittsworth-SLOT/LB
#26 Matthew Bielser-SLOT/LB
#39 Clayton Blair-WR/DB
#58 Dalton Spiker-OL/DL
#62 Riley Peterson-OL/DL
#65 Paul Olson-OL/LB
#68 Kenny Miller-OL/LB
#86 Jared Guyton-SLOT/LB
#88 Bradon Annegers-TE/DL
#8 Nathan Bigger-QB/DL
#11 Landon Beelman-WR/DB
#55 Dylan Gibbs-OL/DL
#72 John Steck-OL/DL
#74 Wesley Stewart-OL/DL