Dan Hill Begins Tenure as W.F. West Football Coach
EARLY LOOK: Hill Starts Spring Football as Head Coach of Bearcats
By Matt Baide
After 12 years of Bob Wollan on the sidelines for the Bearcat football team, Dan Hill has officially taken over as the new head football coach for W.F. West.
“I’m pumped. It’s exciting to be a part of this program, the tradition and success that’s apart of Bearcat football,” Hill said on the first day of spring football practice on Wednesday. “It’s pretty cool and I’m really excited about the opportunity to be a part of that.”
Hill went to high school in Elma and began his coaching career eight years ago as an assistant coach at LaCrosse/Washtucna, a 1B school that plays eight-man football. Hill noted it was interesting to begin coaching eight-man football instead of the standard 11-on-11.
“The basics are similar, but things can get more complex just because there are more bodies on the field and a little less space to move,” Hill said. “There’s not as many points being scored. It was a lot of fun doing that, something new. It was a great experience.”
He moved back to coaching standard football at Rochester for a year before taking a job coaching at Centralia for four years. Hill spent last season on Wollan’s staff with the Bearcats as the quarterbacks and outside linebackers coach.
During Wollan’s time at the helm, he established a culture of Bearcat football that Hill hopes to continue to carry on.
“We’re not getting rid of any of the traditions. everything that Bob has built and worked so hard for over the last 12 years or so, we’re going to run with all that stuff and the traditions are going to stay the same,” Hill said. “I’m a new coach and some things will change, X’s and O’s, but when you get down to the meat and potatoes of stuff, the heart and soul of the team, it’s going to stay the same.”
The Bearcats earned another state tournament appearance last season after a 7-2 regular season and a 4-1 record in EvCo games. W.F. West defeated Woodland 38-35 on a last second field goal in a crossover game to punch their ticket to the state tournament for the fifth straight season.
The Bearcats lost to North Kitsap in the opening round of the state tournament, 38-7. W.F. West graduated several key seniors, including the EvCo Offensive MVP and Bob’s son Nole Wollan at quarterback.
Hill is still encouraged by the amount of talent coming back for the 2018 season.
“We’ve got a lot of juniors returning. We lose a lot of seniors from last year’s team, a lot of starters. I think we’re only really bringing back two offensive starters, not sure on the defensive side but it’s pretty similar,” Hill said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do, the kids are excited. They’re ready to commit to working hard and finding a spot on this team. I’m excited for their opportunity.”
The returners will have to learn a different playbook, as Hill said the coaching staff is introducing new plays and terminology into the arsenal.
“Offensively, we’ll run multiple formations, we’ll just take what the defense gives us,” Hill said. “I’m not a predetermined guy on what I want to do, I’m going to figure out what we can be most successful at week to week and that’s what we’re going to stress within what our system is and kind of take that approach.”
Spring football practice is when Hill hopes his team will be able to pick up on the new formations and plays the team will be running next season, as well as get a look at how players will sort themselves out on the depth chart.
“My goals, just really want our guys to love to come out here and compete and then along the way, learn the terminology and get our base packages in,” Hill said. “I want to get the competition rolling and get guys wanting to fight for a job and compete against each other and be hungry going into the summertime so when we come for fall camp, we’re ready to go.”
When fall rolls around, Hill hopes the Bearcats will be ready to pick up where they left off last season and put together another winning season.
“I’ve got high expectations. We did lose a lot of seniors, we’ve got a lot of shoes to fill, but guys have been working hard in the offseason, especially the upfront guys,” Hill said. “We’ve got to replace a lot of linemen but they’re working hard and we’ve got some good size bodies and they want to do good and I think they’re going to have a lot of success.”