Olson’s first year is quickly forgotten

 

By John Ring

 

Wes Olson’s first year as the Silver Streak football coach sped by so quick it’s sometimes hard to remember the highlights from the 2006 season.

“It was a tremendous and positive experience,” said Olson. “The first game against Dunlap. The good crowds that watched the games. The players we had who have moved up to the next level at college. But to be honest, we haven’t had a lot of time to think about it because we went right to our off season program.”

Coach Olson’s off season program has and will emphasize two things— blocking and tackling. That’s easy to identify because the Streaks coach mentioned that three times in our twenty minute conversation. “As a coaching staff, we sat down after the season and talked about what had happened, talked about things that went well and talked about things that didn’t go well. We talked about what we needed to improve on. We were honest with each other and we had several meetings like that. So as a staff, we reached the conclusion of what we needed to do.”

“Our focus is to improve our ballclub. The players have to become better blockers and tacklers.  Our ball security has to be better on offense and we need to pursue and tackle better on defense.”

Galesburg finished with a 3-6 record in Olson’s first season. They started off with a 3-2 record and lost their last four games. But for the most part, the Silver Streaks were competitive. Their worst defeats came at the hands of Moline and Rock Island Alleman late in the season.

“It was nice to be competitive and we felt good that the kids worked hard. It seems that a lot of our problems were in the first and second quarters, we’d fight our way back into the game and then we were just a play or two away from winning the game.”

A perfect example of that was Game #7 when Galesburg and East Moline played at VanDyke Field. It was a must win for the Streaks to have any hopes for the state playoffs. But they fell behind 14-0 before the offense touched the ball and lost 28-21 despite a last ditch rally fueled by backup quarterback Kyle Hunter.

It was also true against Peoria Richwoods and East Moline, two pivotal losses in which the Streaks buried themselves early only to claw back into it and fall short.

Coach Olson’s summer camps begin shortly. The 2007 Streaks will return some key players but suffered some big graduation losses and will rely heavily on the incoming junior class that were undefeated as freshmen. But, as Olson quickly pointed out, that doesn’t really mean a lot two years later.

“It’s hard to make that adjustment in the Western Big 6. Lots of people talk about success at the lower levels. The community talks about it, the parents talk about it and the coaching staff talks about it. But success at the lower level doesn’t equate to success at the varsity level. A lot of things have to happen. Programs like Moline and Alleman bring in those players as freshmen and when they become juniors and seniors they are more complete players. They do the work they need to do on blocking and tackling. They spend the time they need to in the off season to improve. A year round program makes that happen and that’s what we’re trying to do here. We’re trying to make them understand what it takes to be successful.”

The Streaks coach also emphasized that every position will be open for competition this fall when the Streaks take the practice field. “I like to make it that way,” said Coach Olson. “All of our quarterbacks understand our system and that’s a good thing we have. Kyle Hunter understands it and so does Austin Shearer who played at the sophomore level last year and so did our freshman quarterback last year. All of them are familiar with what we do.”

Olson and his family have made an easy adjustment to Galesburg. “This community is one of the reasons we came here. We love it here. The fans last year were great. They came out and supported us. Community support for a high school football team is crucial and it’s evident here. Our players and program like to support the community and we would like to expand on things like that.”

The Silver Streak coach admits that things already are going better for him, now that he’s had time to break into a new job at a new high school with a new team.

“I have to admit it’s a whole lot easier working out of an office now instead of a car,” said Olson. “The other thing is that the kids know us now and we’ve established a bond of trust with them. That’s important in any sports program.”

 

Highlights and Lowlights of the first year of the Wes Olson Era

 

The Best

Trevor Willits’ sack of Dunlap quarterback Pete Harwell to seal a 28-21 Game 1 victory

A big 3rd quarter against Quincy that turned a 7-7 halftime tie into a 28-13 win and a 3-2 record.

The emergency of Ricky Diggins as a bonafide scoring threat with every touch of the ball

Kyle Hunter’s performance off the bench in a 28=21 loss to East Moline

 

The Worst

Streaks died on the Richwoods 15-yard line in a 20-14 loss in Week 2.

Two scoring drives inside the Rock Island 20 that failed in a 20-6 loss to the Rocks

Losing to East Moline, which had an 0-6 record coming into the game.

42 unanswered points to Rock Island Alleman in a 42-14 loss in Week 8.

 

6/28/07