Olson’s first year is
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
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.”
and Lowlights of the first year of the Wes Olson Era
Willits’ sack of Dunlap quarterback Pete Harwell to seal a 28-21 Game 1 victory
big 3rd quarter against Quincy that turned a 7-7 halftime tie into a
28-13 win and a 3-2 record.
emergency of Ricky Diggins as a bonafide scoring threat with every touch of the
Hunter’s performance off the bench in a 28=21 loss to East Moline
died on the Richwoods 15-yard line in a 20-14 loss in Week 2.
scoring drives inside the Rock Island 20 that failed in a 20-6 loss to the
to East Moline, which had an 0-6 record coming into the game.
unanswered points to Rock Island Alleman in a 42-14 loss in Week 8.