By Doug Binder • Doug Binder • 

New coaches keeping busy this summer

New McMinnville High football coach Robin Hill said this week he feels energized by his new job and he’s pleased by the progress he’s seen at summer workouts.

That could mean good things for the Grizzlies this fall. Hill came out of retirement to accept the McMinnville coaching job in February after a one-year “hiatus” from coaching. Before that, he led Sprague of Salem to 20 state playoff appearances in 25 seasons, a run of success that included a state championship in 2004 and runner-up finish in 1999.

McMinnville’s football players are meeting three days a week for weightlifting plus speed and conditioning exercises. The Oregon School Activities Association’s mandatory no-practice week is July 28 to Aug. 3 and regular practices begin after that.

For Hill, as well as first-year coach Jared Hinkle at Amity, there is precious little time to put new foundations in place.

“The kids have been great,” Hill said. “I’m a little more involved in the summer (workouts) than I was in the past. It’s energized me.”

Hill is pleased with the numbers of players turning out to put in offseason work.

“Some days it’s 50-60 (athletes), some days it’s 35-40, but the kids are doing a great job of getting bigger, faster and stronger,” Hill said.

Those sessions are crucial for Hill because he is still learning the names of his players.

“I’m used to knowing the name of every single kid,” he said. “But I am getting to where I can recognize who they are, and I’m getting more and more of their names (memorized).”

One name Hill got to know right away was that of returning quarterback Gage Gubrud, the first Grizzlies player the new coach met.

Learning names is all part of the process, but there’s much more work to be done. Hill said he has a couple more gaps he’d like to fill in his coaching staff, and there is also the business of putting into place a new offense.

Hill is a long-time adherent of the wing-T, and he looks forward to seeing it take flight with the personnel he has at McMinnville.

“There are quite a few little playmakers here so it will be fun putting the pieces together,” Hill said.

McMinnville didn’t participate in a 7-on-7 passing league this summer, but Hill said he would find competitions after the “dead week.”

“It didn’t make sense to do it (in June) because there was still so much to learn on both sides of the ball,” Hill said.

At Sprague, Hill could expect when he called a play every player knew it backwards and forwards.

“It’s been really refreshing and exciting (to start from scratch) and allowed me to coach all the little things that become so important in games,” he said. “The big thing going forward is getting every kid in the right position to allow them to be successful.”

Hinkle getting started

Jared Hinkle, a former Linfield player and coach, is taking a back-to-basics approach at Amity this summer.

Hired in April, Hinkle has hit the ground running and tried to re-engage the community.

A core group of players, just 5-10 of them, are meeting three days a week for some strength and conditioning exercises while other players work or have other sports causing scheduling conflicts. Hinkle is looking forward to the start of fall practice, where the emphasis will be squarely placed on mastering technique.

“It takes time to install a (summer football program) and that takes some balancing,” Hinkle said. “That said, we’ve got a lot of good work in. We’re making positive gains with quickness and agility.”

Hinkle said he will play to his team’s strengths, but he is primarily focused on skill development.

“My emphasis is technique, bottom-line,” he said. “We need to be able to block and tackle.”

Players got a two-week introduction to Hinkle’s practices in the spring, and he is looking forward to getting everyone together after the OSAA moratorium. Hinkle said his staff is mostly set, but he “might add another coach or two by the fall.”

Hinkle has also developed a friendship with former Amity coach Joel Magill.

“Coach Magill has been a great asset and he was one of the first guys that called me after I got the job,” Hinkle said. “I think it’s important for kids to see that Coach Magill and myself do have a good relationship.”

Hinkle is also close friends with Dayton coach Brodie Unger, which could make for an interesting sub-plot when the two historic rivals meet this fall.

Both are Linfield alums, and they spent a season coaching together at their alma mater.

“Brodie has been great at giving me a lot of advice, just dealing with the smaller-school football mentality,” Hinkle said. “He and I both came from big schools. The way he coaches at Dayton is awesome to see.”

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