By Mike Albanese, TSB Staff
Despite coming off a disappointing 3-7 season and hiring a pair of new coaches during the offseason, McKinney North head football coach Mike Fecci has one goal in mind for the 2013 season – and that is to win.
“We expect to make the playoffs…bottom line, we worry about making the playoffs,” Fecci said.
Winning, however, may be easier said than done this year with the Bulldogs ushering a pair of new coordinators — on both defense and offense —for the 2013 season.
The new voice controlling the defense will be Joe Welock, who Fecci called “extremely intense” and someone who can bring out the best in his players.
“He gets the most out of every kid that he touches,” Fecci said of Welock, who spent last season coaching the linebackers at North.
Fecci said Welock is “very consistent” with the players and what he expects out of them, and expects them to adopt a more physical brand of defense.
“He’ll bring a burning desire and passion to be physical,” Fecci said.
Strategically, the defense will still be run out of the 4-3 base set, Fecci said, which may change depending on the opposing offense. He added outside of some terminology and how the plays are called, the defensive philosophy should remain fairly similar.
North allowed an average of 29.9 points-per-game last season, allowing Wylie East to put up 50 points and 45 to Sherman.
The new play caller offensively will be Kyle Hardin, who spent the past five years working in the same capacity at Rowlett High School.
Fecci said Hardin will bring a faster brand of football to McKinney North, implementing much of what made Rowlett so successful during his tenure there.
“It’s a face-paced offense, (but) it’s a ball-control offense at the same time,” Fecci said. “He brings a lot of knowledge of what they did there at Rowlett — they were really able to establish some things.”
Fecci said Hardin’s system fits his current personnel well, noting most of North’s offensive sets are similar to what Rowlett and Hardin used in past years.
Although trying to implement a new staff, North decided to forgo spring football because numerous players were involved in springs sports, most notably track and baseball.
Fecci added he was not sure if Hardin would be able to attend spring practice, so decided it was best for the program to forgo the spring season.
“Rather than try and go through spring, and not have all the pieces of the puzzle that we needed to have a productive spring, we just opted to start sooner in the summer,” Fecci said.
Fecci, who will be entering his 16th season coaching – 5th year as head coach of North – said the absence of spring football was “very odd,” but did come with some benefits.
He said the players were able to focus on the strength program, coaches didn’t feel as pressed to prepare for the upcoming season and the program gained an additional scrimmage during the summer months.
The Bulldogs missed out on the playoffs in 2012, a year after finishing 6-4 before falling to Frisco-Centennial 45-16 in the first round of the 2011 Class 4A Division I playoffs.
And for the Bulldogs to return to the post season, Fecci will be looking toward several key veterans to show leadership on and off the field.
Fecci pointed to all five members of his offensive line — junior quarterback Ben Dutze and the backfield tandem of junior Trey Smith and sophomore Ronald Jones to be the main cogs in Hardin’s new offense.
The depth chart defensively isn’t as set, however, with North bringing back just one starter from last season’s defense, Fecci said.
Fecci sees the open field on defense as a positive, saying they have a crop of talented kids ready to jump into the starting lineup.
“We’ve got a lot of holes to fill over there, but we feel good about that because we’ve got some kids that are hungry and striving and ready to take that role on,” he said.
The Bulldogs will open camp Aug. 5, and will open the season at home Aug. 29 when they host Newman Smith.
Fecci said coaches will able to see what their team is made off during their first three games, and hopefully establish an identity heading into the first division game against Sherman.
But after that, Fecci said it will be “time to go beat some people.”