New Lindsay offensive coordinator coach Zach Birdwell has known about the prowess of the athletes at Lindsay for the past several years during his time seeing them in person at the state track meet.
Birdwell knows about the success the football team has seen and he said he is excited to add to the school’s lore.
“I’m extremely excited and honored to be joining the tradition at Lindsay,” Birdwell said. “I have huge plans for this place and can’t wait to get started. They make playoff runs in every sport every year. It’s a place that has tradition and a school and community that takes pride in what they do. It’s a program that I think any coach would love to be apart of.”
Birdwell comes over from Groveton, located about 100 miles north of Houston, after four years as offensive coordinator.
He will be working under head coach Jeff Smiley, who took over for coach Charles Boles after helping the Muenster Hornets win the Class 2A Division II state championship.
Smiley’s defensive mind is something Birdwell said he can’t wait to pick.
“I am constantly looking for ways to improve offensively as a coach and one major way I do that is by trying to soak up as much defensive knowledge as possible,” Birdwell said. “Calling plays isn’t just about knowing your offense. To have a chance to work under such a well respected defensive coach and a coach who’s coming fresh off of a state championship is huge to me.”
Being a part of a new coaching staff might suggest there will be some learning phases, but Birdwell said he isn’t making any excuses for his first season at Lindsay.
“There will be no ‘year one rebuild’ stage,” Birdwell said. “We’re hitting the ground running from day one. We want to win 10-plus games. We want to be playing in December. There’s a lot of smaller goals and steps along the way, but ultimately it simple — win District 4, win Region 1, win state.”
The Knights dropped down from Class 2A Division II to Division I this season and into a newly aligned District 4 with Alvord, Chico, Olney and Seymour.
Birdwell said he is looking forward going through the change with Lindsay.
“It’s a chance for Lindsay to play some different teams and see some new competition,” Birdwell said. “Seymour is always tough and they have some big contributors returning. Alvord has a young quarterback that I’ve been extremely impressed with on film. Chico has a new coach and will have a new look.”
Birdwell expects the Knights to take the top spot in the district.
“All that said though, we plan on being the top dog in the district and we’re not going to settle for anything less,” Birdwell said. “Region 1 as a whole is very intriguing. It’s a region that I don’t think has a clear-cut number one from day one. I think there’s some great competition in Region 1 and we’re going to be ready for it.”
Birdwell’s offensive philosophy is simple — be aggressive.
“I’m going to attack in my play calling,” Birdwell said. “We will play fast and we will always look to dictate the tempo of the game. We’re going to do whatever we need to do to get our best athletes the ball in space. We will strive to be the most detail-oriented team in the state of Texas.”
“Being a multi-sport athlete is one of the hot topics in the coaching world today,” Birdwell said. “My viewpoint on it is real simple. I want kids who compete and compete relentlessly every chance they get. It keeps kids in shape. They get to fine-tune different skill sets. They bond with different teammates. It teaches them how to take different style of coaching, different styles of criticism, different styles of praise.”
As far as his overall coaching approach, Birdwell says it starts with building relationships.
“I’m a big believer that you can be unbelievably demanding and challenging on your kids when they know how much you care about them,” Birdwell said. “The athletes I coach will know daily that I’ll do anything I can for them and that’s not just while they’re in school. That’s forever.”
Birdwell will also be the head powerlifting coach and he said it is crucial for today’s athlete to be proficient in as many skills and sports as possible.
Patrick Hayslip can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @PatrickHayslip