The Leaf Chronicle
Clarksville | August 2, 2018
Year 2 at Fort Campbell High School has become the critical year for every head coach of the program since Shawn Berner's departure in 2012.
Anthony Butler lasted two seasons. Josh McKillip last two years.
And now that the 2018 season is approaching, Josh Robins finds himself entering his second year as the Falcons' head football coach.
"I haven't dwelt on that fact," Robins said prior to his team's practice Wednesday evening. "I'm trying to build something here and that's my focus."
Yet the similarities are striking if you're talking strictly wins and losses. Butler began his Falcons coaching career with a 5-7 record and a playoff trip in Kentucky. But his second year ended with a 3-8 mark before he stepped down.
McKillip, a longtime assistant coach at Fort Campbell and a former Falcons player himself, had back-to-back 2-9 seasons that ended with first-round playoff losses before he resigned.
Pearl Cohn was impressive as it traveled to Austin Peay to face Clarksville High in preseason scrimmage. George Robinson, USA TODAY NETWORK - Tennessee
Last year, Robins' first, Fort Campbell finished 2-8 and missed the Class AAA playoffs. And while those recent former coaches expressed disappointment in getting the proper support, Robins feels he's making headway in that area particularly after being named athletics director for the upcoming school year.
"The school administration has been nothing but supportive," Robins said. "But we're in the midst of a culture change here with the football program. And it's taking time to build momentum. Of course winning cures everything, but that's what we're working towards."
Robins took last year's struggles personally, realizing he made "a lot of mistakes." Robins said his coaching staff may have been too big with nearly a dozen coaches, but he blames a narrow focus on just football as the biggest culprit.
"I really didn't sit back and look at the bigger picture of what it meant to be a head coach," he said. "I really just focused on football and didn't really understand my role as someone who has to champion the program. I have to get our community involved with this program again. I have to make it fun. It wasn't so much fun last year."
Robins said each Friday home game this season will have a theme.
"We'll have military appreciation night, we're going to have youth football night where we invite youth football leagues from around the area to come," he said. "We're trying to get our kids more involved with community outreach."
In the meantime, the former Northwest High defensive coordinator has a smaller, close-knit staff and says his first year as a head coach of his own program last year taught him more about himself.
"I'm reading more books now," he said. "I'm talking about books from very successful college coaches, pro coaches. I'm realizing where my focus needs to be. I'm still calling the defense, but I'm going to be more involved in every aspect of our team."
Even Fort Campbell's players notice a change.
"Practices are much more intense," sophomore linebacker Ethan Tomerlin said. "We have a young team. We only have four starters returning on defense and three on offense. So mistakes are going to happen, but we're not making the same mistakes over and over. It's a different attitude this year."
And Robins is hoping a third year is in play.
"My goal is to see this thing through," he said. "I plan on finishing what I started here."
Reach Prep writer George Robinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (931) 245-0747 and on Twitter @Cville_Sports.