Brett Eckert, a 2005 graduate of Hill City High School, is the new head football coach at Hill City. Eckert has been a football coach for 12 years.
He said his favorite part of coaching is interacting with the players. He believes one of the goals of coaching is to make better men out of players.
“We’re helping them become better men, better citizens,” Eckert said. “The goal of all sports is to create better individuals.”
Eckert said he stresses fundamentals and perfect effort. He encourages high intensity and getting after it. That means giving full effort every single play.
Aug. 9 was the fourth day of practice. He said each day they are looking to get better and it’s a process.
“We focus on what we can control and kids seem to be understanding what we are trying to do,” Eckert said.
He has been trying to push them to another level that the coaches are expecting them to get to. A lot of it has to do with creating disciplined players. At practice Eckert told the players that they should demand perfection from themselves. He also wanted the players to run to the line of scrimmage after a play instead of jog.
Some of the practice time was broken up into sections. There was a large group on the line of scrimmage and then everyone split off into different groups based on their position. Eckert was with the quarterbacks and had one-on-one time with Noah Krull and Taylor Edwards.
There are 26 players on the team this year. Eight of them are seniors. Only three seniors were on the team last year. There are also three more players than last year.
Eckert said he is looking forward to what they can put together.
“Having a specific way of doing things, hopefully the kids will see the benefit of doing that.”
The plan is to take it one game at a time and right now the focus is on the Newell team that they will face this Friday.
Eckert was an assistant coach for St. Mary’s Central High School in North Dakota for two years and then he coached at another school in North Dakota for five years. After that he returned to St. Mary’s where he was for the last five years.
“I ran the JV program for awhile and then the last two years I was with the wide receivers and defensive backs as a position coach,” Eckert said.
He said he was interested in the coaching job because it was an opportunity to come back and coach at his alma mater. He also sees the opportunity as a way to bring Hill City back to the type of football played in the past and continue storied traditions.
During his time at Hill City High School he played football and basketball. In high school he thinks the winning percentage in football was below .500.
“It’s always interesting going back to where you grew up,” Eckert said. “A lot of people know you know and you run into people you knew when you were a kid.”
He said he has gotten to see people that he hasn’t kept in touch with while he was in North Dakota.
He said it’s nice to have familiarity with the community because there are people who know the program. His assistant coaches are Howard Schrier and John Marcus Isakson.
Eckert also works for a local contractor.
The first game of the season is Aug. 17 in Newell at 4 p.m. The first home game they have is four weeks into the season. Hill City will only have three home games in the regular season.