I caught up with TCW head coach Chris Criswell and asked him about spring ball and what he wants to see this season.
Ella: What are you hoping to accomplish during spring ball?
Coach Criswell: We want to see all the fundamentals in our tackling. I want to see the fundamentals at running plays, at blocking, at running our defense. It doesn’t have to get complicated or crazy, but I want to see those fundamentals in place and then it gives us a gauge for where we have to improve. The other things I want to see are who’s ready to be first string or second string varsity and who will be JV because we spend a lot of time trying to get a good lineup on the field that helps everybody. Our last goal in spring training is to make sure that everybody that’s willing to work hard and give an effort is able to get in every game. So we’re kind of putting a plan in and we’re testing that.
Ella: Along those lines, several impact players on defense graduated last season. This presents an opportunity for some of the younger players to step up. Who do you expect to replace the defensive players who graduated?
Coach Criswell: Caleb Harmon was already a starter but I expect him to be a leader on the defense and one of our leading tacklers. I expect Will Cseszko to have a big season. He started last year but he got hurt a couple of times. I expect Jeremiah Wilkins and John Gill to rise up pretty big at defensive end. So I’m looking forward to seeing those things. And then finally at corner, we should have two new guys starting at corner so that should be interesting to watch.
Ella: We lost our senior quarterback, wide receivers, and running back. Who do you expect to take on a bigger role there? Do you anticipate any changes to the offensive scheme?
Coach Criswell: The scheme is just going to be developed a little bit further, but it is the same basic offense. It will be developed further. Right now it looks like Drew Harrison will probably be quarterback and he’s looking great. There was a good chance that he was going to step into that role anyway this season. I expect Ezra to have a big year. I expect Garret England to have a big year. I expect Joe Cassidy to have a big year, both on the o-line and sometimes at that y-back which we all love watching. And then I expect Jackson Resurreccion to have a big year.
Ella: Last year the Warriors lost the championship game by a field goal. How do you find a balance between disappointment from the loss and being proud of what the team accomplished?
Coach Criswell: I’ve struggled with it, to be honest. That’s two years in a row that we’ve lost by three in the National championship. And some people go, “Well, you’re second best in the nation,” but we all know where we want to be. So I think you do this. I think you look at your players and who they’re becoming as men and you rejoice in that. We’re sending guys off to college. We sent a great senior class off to college this year. I’m really proud of them. So I try to look at them becoming men and the character that we’re developing on the team. And then I look at who we’re playing, and I compare it to past seasons. We’re playing the highest level football we’ve ever played and there’s no doubt about that. So we just keep raising the standard and then we go and fight and then we let our players know we’re proud when they have given everything they’ve got.
Ella: Finally, what is your prayer for TCW for the upcoming season?
Coach Criswell: My prayer is that we would be overcomers in attitude and heart; in love for the LORD and for one another. We have a chance to make us a little more focused, a little bit leaner, a little bit meaner. And I’m looking forward to the attitudes developed by the team to have that overcoming, Godly character.