ETV News stock photo by Jeff Barrett
The Dinos come into the 2020 season focused and determined to put the program’s past struggles behind them. The difficulties that have plagued the Dino football program are all too familiar to its players and fans. Carbon hired longtime Helper Middle School coach Phil Howa in hopes of turning the program around.
Howa knows there is a long way to go, but he is excited with the direction of the program. “They are gaining confidence. That’s half the battle, believing you can.” Howa continued, “We are getting better everyday, more confident everyday. [We’re] headed in the right direction.”
The focus of the summer has been coaching and solidifying the fundamentals while also changing the atmosphere of the team. Howa mentioned that one goal has been to create a culture where players want to come to practice, work hard and improve each day. “We are going to base our year on accountability. Excuses are too easy; we need to find excuses to show up,” he said.
The Dinos have seen their numbers increase, showing positive signs within the program. The growth has allowed for more position battles than in the past. “If you’re a fat cat, you won’t work as hard,” remarked Howa regarding the position battles. “But if you always have someone behind you pushing, pushing, pushing, then it makes you better. I’m excited about kids having to be pushed, and I know that when somebody gets pushed, they work harder.”
Carbon lost a lot of seniors at key positions, but that allows Howa and his staff to build the team from the ground up. “We’re young. The bulk of our starters are juniors kids and we’ve got a handful of seniors that are filled in there.”
One of the hottest position battles of camp has been quarterback. “I feel like I’ve got four kids right now that could step in and play quarterback at any time. One’s a sophomore but he’s a pretty mature sophomore. The other two are juniors and a first-year senior,” said Howa. “[The senior’s] looking good. He’s quick and has a heck of arm if we give him time. We have to give him time.” Quarterback is an important position for any team, but especially one that will run an option offense like the one the Dinos are installing.
Howa went on to talk about improving the team’s physicality and mindset. “My goal is to try to get them to want to hit, to play tough on tough. [We want to] work as a team.” He continued, “[We’ve got to] stay positive. I’m a motivator; I can get kids to believe in themselves. Kids that are confident believe in themselves, and that’s half the battle. We are going to have a fight in us that people haven’t seen in a while.”
“They’re working well, they’re working like a team, that’s all I can ask. We’re getting that team concept down and I think that was my main goal coming in.” Howa concluded, “Getting them to show some character, be class acts on and off the field. That’s one of my main goals this year. Show some great character and make Carbon County proud.”