By John Ring
Published August 11, 2022 in The Burg
1.How did it feel to get that first win last year against Beloit?
WILLITS: Coaching changes are always tough It doesn’t matter if it’s Division 1 or Division III college football. You’re bringing in new terminology, a new offense, a new defense and there’s a lot to learn. We’re all a part of the football program. Plus, when we started here we were dealing with the covid stuff and there was a lot of frustration and cancellations but after we got that win over Beloit, there were smiles on the faces of our players. It was a big reward for them.”
2. That win triggered a pretty good stretch for your team. You scored a lot of points and won three of four games.
WILLITS: “Winning breeds confidence. We had to get over the hump and we had a good stretch after that is a schedule that favored us. Once we got back into better competition again, we executed better and that was triggered by our first win. Our guys won a game, they wanted to win another and to keep winning.”
3. It’s pretty well a given that a college coach needs time to build up the program, to recruit
the players, to install his schemes. How is that progressing?
WILLITS: “We took some good steps last year and the guys latched on to that. Relationships in football take time. They have to be built and it will continue to take time. We just need to continue with that. We took some good steps forward.”
4. What’s going to be the key for your Prairie Fire team this season?
WILLITS: “We need to limit bad football and bad technique. We need to execute better. It also is a big factor to stay healthy. We’re in need of more numbers and to have some good depth. Our philosophy is to be a physical team at the line of scrimmage, to play physical and we need a deeper team. This year, we’re bringing in 24 new guys and a couple may make an impact. Our quarterback is here for another year and he’s knows our schemes. Our fifth year players are back and will make a difference. We had a good year but more growth is needed, we’re not where I want us to be.”
5. Being a Knox alum, you know about the significance of the Knox-Monmouth football game. What’s your take on the rivalry and the game?
WILLITS: “No matter what the situation is or what the records are, it’s a big game. The alumni from both schools are excited and the players are too. They key for us is to be competitive in this game.
We have to be. Look, we want to be 10-0. Why are we playing? We’re playing to win and just need to get the work in, get ready for camp and execute. That will help us get us where we need to be. We talk to our guys about it on a daily basis. But the Knox-Monmouth game is a unique rivalry. But, at the same time, we need to be competitive against lake Forest and the University of Chicago too.”