By SHAWN YORKS and EARL WATT
• Leader & Times
The magnitude of Cliff Abbott’s new job as Liberal Redskin football coach has not been lost on the new man in charge.
The 1980 LHS grad was named new head man of the Redskins on Friday after Wade Standley resigned to take the head coaching job at Norman North in Oklahoma. Since Abbott accepted the job on Friday, he has hit the ground running.
First order of business: assembling his coaching staff.
“Right now we are in the process of putting that together, visiting with those who are already here under coach Standley,” Abbott said. “There are some very key personnel.”
Abbott’s key incredient for his coaching staff is passion. Passion for the players and passion for the traditions of Liberal High School football.
“It is staff we’ve had and had a chance to work with,” Abbott said. “We will work hard and expect a lot out of our staff and our kids. You want to surround yourself with good people.”
Abbott is in the process of contacting people who have ties to the LHS program and “Who know the honor it is to be a part of this program and have a vision to go where we want to go,” he said.
Abbott’s main goal is to start winning. Liberal hasn’t had a playoff football win since 2005. The new coach has some ideas for how to get that winning tradition back at Redskin Field.
“Basic football is to estbalish the run and stop the run,” Abbott said. “We are going to get to where we can run the ball. The game has evolved with rules and personnel that you have to have a balance and be able to go to the air.”
Liberal won’t be a one-dimensional offensive team.
“One dimensial teams can struggle unless they have superior athletes,” Abbott said. “We will be a balanced team. We are going to run the ball, maybe in the option, maybe in the I. That will be dictated by the kids we have. We will bring it.”
Don’t be surprised to see the Redskins mix in the spread offense, as well. Which is something many high schools across the country run.
“We are going to have to mix in the spread so you don’t have eight in the box and we will run out of spread, throw out of power set,” he said. “(We will) be unpredictable, make it hard to develop tendencies, make it a challenge to prepare for us us.”
Unpredictability will be the name of the game defensively, too. The Redskins will run a 3-4 or 4-3 depending on what the game dictates.
“What we have personnel for are speed and hard nosed kids,” Abbott said. “We have to utilize that. We will do some stuff, move it aorund, We have to move. We have to hit in the mouth and run, move around.”
Abbott said Standley’s teams at Liberal had that hunger to succeed and compete for conference, district and state championships.
“They want that,” Abbott said. “That to me is the biggest step. We can bring an all star staff but if there is no hunger or desire it won’t work. Kids have that hunger. They want to be there. We get enough of those kids it will happen in spite of the coaches.”
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