A familiar face will lead Hillcrest High into the shine of this fall’s Friday Night Lights.
Not only have Husky fans spotted him on the sidelines at Schick Stadium, students see him every day in the hallways and psychology class.
Ron Hill, the Huskies’ former offensive coordinator and a current teacher in Hillcrest’s vaunted International Baccalaureate program, this week was announced as the school’s new head football coach.
Hill, who also previously coached at Judge Memorial Catholic High School, was chosen after a national search. His appointment was announced to the faculty on Thursday, and Hill and some members of the coaching staff met with returning and prospective players on Friday afternoon.
“Our search was exhaustive. We really looked for the best-possible fit for us here at Hillcrest. We are confident that we did that,” Assistant Principal Justin Matagi said at the team meeting. “With Coach Hill, we think we can keep up the momentum we’ve trying to build over the past couple of years.”
Hill, a University of Utah product, succeeds Cazzie Brown, who died a few weeks into last season from complications of a viral infection. The team, riding on a high from a berth in the state playoffs at the end of Brown’s first year, reeled in mourning — and never recovered.
“We were on our way, you guys. We were making steps,” Hill acknowledged on Friday as players, many of them clad in Husky green jerseys, stood around him. “But then a very unfortunate incident came about that affected all of us. It was something over which we had no control, there is no doubt about that.”
The new coach hailed Brown’s legacy and asked the team to rise above the challenges they faced after his untimely death. “He left us with one final lesson — and we all have to fight through it,” he said. “I want to move forward, and It’s time to move forward.”
Hill also laid bare his expectations, both in the classroom and the playing field, for those donning the Hillcrest uniform. Failing grades — or failures to attend practice — will not be tolerated, he said. Dedication and commitment to learning will be hallmarks of the Husky program, Hill told the players.
“I’m an academic. It means everything to me,” he said. “You are going to so much farther with what you have up here (in your head) than with how well you can catch a football.”
But he also plans on being competitive. The “old school” training will be intensive and designed to build “big guys” and “monsters,” he said. Hill also asked the members of the team for some help recruiting more players. In order to be successful, he said, the team needs a deeper bench. “Fellas,” he said, “I need numbers.”
For Hill, who has started the Twitter account @coachhillhhh to communicate with the community, the chance the helm the Huskies’ football team is “absolutely a dream come true.”
“We are back online and we are fired up,” he said. “I can’t tell you how excited I am.”