Three games into 2019 and the Hawks have already exceeded their win total from a year ago—and are off to a 3-0 start for the first time since 2013. Though five-time state champion Urbana had been a postseason mainstay until its last playoff appearance in 2014, the Hawks (2-8 record in 2018) have not finished above .500 in five years. But there’s a new air around Urbana football this fall, and the Hawks look poised to get themselves back into the postseason conversation.
“It all started in the offseason,” third-year Urbana coach Brad Wilson said. “Usually it takes four or five years (for a new coach) to get (his system in place). I’m talking about the culture, work ethic and commitment to the weight room. I brought in each of our returning players and told them there’s no reason to wait until year four or five, we can make it happen in year
three. And to all the players’ and coaches’ credit, they all bought in. We’re faster and stronger because of their commitment (to offseason training), and that’s why we are where we are.”
Additionally, the Hawks bought into the team concept this season, Wilson said, which has also majorly contributed to their strong start. While some individuals might have standout performances on any given Friday night—Wilson said it’s been exciting to see different players shine through Urbana’s first three wins—there are no superstars and no egos.
“It’s all about each other and the team; there are no individuals on this team,” Wilson said. “It’s taken everybody for us to get where we are.”
With the majority of last year’s team back this fall with an additional year of varsity experience to draw from, Urbana essentially returned its entire offense, including third-year starting quarterback Kyle Howes, running back Eric Kolar and all five offensive linemen. That, Wilson said, has been invaluable—Urbana’s virtually impenetrable O-line affords the Hawks’ offense time and flexibility. Urbana employs a balanced attack, creating space by mixing
both running and passing plays to keep opposing defenses on their heels. Defensively,
Urbana “will run and come after you,” Wilson said, looking to create issues and force mistakes by disturbing opponents’ timing on offense.
“The more we win and have success, the more the kids believe in themselves and believe in each other,” Wilson said. “It’s nice to see all their hard work paying off.”