By GREG MENGELT
Football coach hirings are big news.
Jason Hawkins’ move to Silver Creek was no everyday hiring.
The former Clarksville football star spent seven successful years — all winning seasons — as Charlestown’s head coach. He led the Pirates to four Mid-Southern Conference championships and the program’s third sectional title in 2012.
On Thursday, the West Clark school board announced that Hawkins would move just a few miles down the road to Charlestown’s rival. The Dragons will meet the Pirates on Sept. 19, making an already budding rivalry exponentially more compelling.
Before meeting with his new players Monday — a meeting that included more than 50 players that made Hawkins “feel good” about his new situation — Hawkins spent some time answering questions from sports editor Greg Mengelt for the News and Tribune’s ongoing “On the Spot” feature.
QUESTION: I guess I have to start with why did you make the move?
HAWKINS: “I think it’s a great opportunity to continue a program that’s only three years old. I think it’s going to be a challenge to get the program to where I think it could be going. Those two words I think are the key words: opportunity and challenge.”
Q: I’ve been saying since [former Silver Creek coach Mike] Donahue left that whoever takes the job is going to look like a genius. It’s clear that there’s a lot of talent and a lot of enthusiasm for the program. Was that a factor? Did you see the same potential in Silver Creek football?
HAWKINS: “The last few years, the middle school program is going in the right direction. The little league, I think, they have a lot of kids playing at multiple levels. I think eventually we could have 100 kids on the football team. Sellersburg is growing tremendously and Silver Creek’s a great school — a four-star school — and it’s an opportunity to work at a great school with great people. All of their other programs are doing well and there’s no reason why the football program can’t do well.”
Q: At what point would you expect to see Silver Creek become a championship-caliber program?
HAWKINS: “You don’t know. There are goals we feel we can reach in Year 1 and continue every year. We think we can come out and be competitive and keep growing from Day 1.”
Q: Any time a coach leaves a program for another, there’s potential for some hurt feelings. Then there’s your situation, moving to a rival school. How do you think your players — and the Charlestown fans — are taking this news?
HAWKINS: “This wasn’t a one-day decision. I thought about this for months. My wife works in West Clark. West Clark gave me the opportunity to teach PE in the [high school] building all day long. I felt like I wanted to be in the same building with my kids and build relationships with the kids that way. I just think it’s a challenge and an opportunity that I just didn’t want to pass up.”
Q: How much of the [Brownstown coach] Reed May model — of building a program through strength and conditioning through PE and weight lifting within the framework of the school day — are you hoping to follow at Silver Creek?
HAWKINS: “Reed May is the legend of the conference and look at what Brownstown is doing and try to have a model going toward that. They’re not only good at football. They’re good at everything. Whatever they’re going, they’re doing the right thing. What they do is what every school should be trying to get to.”
Q: Are you worried at all about the spectacle that the Charlestown-Silver Creek game on Sept. 19 could become?
HAWKINS: “It’s always going to be a rivalry. It didn’t matter if I was the head coach at Charlestown or the head coach at Silver Creek. It’s probably going to be a little more heated the first couple years now because I decided to move over here. But that’s great. It’s going to be great for Clark County. It’s going to be a big game that week. Hopefully we’ll be able to compete at Charlestown’s level. It’s going to be fun.”
Part 2 of the News and Tribune’s exclusive Q&A with new Silver Creek head football coach Jason Hawkins.