Q&A with new Flyers football coach Kevin Auten
Kevin Auten File
• High School Alma Mater: Whitney, 1995
• College Alma Mater: Tarleton State, 2001
• Goliad, 2002-05
• Yoakum, 2006-08
• Conroe, 2009
• Goliad, 2010
• Big Lake Reagan County, 2011
In less than two weeks, the St. Joseph Flyers begin a season of transition when they open fall practice under new head football coach Kevin Auten.
The 35-year-old comes to Victoria after one season as head coach at Big Lake Reagan County where he went 4-6 in 2011.
Auten said he's familiar with the Crossroads after stops as an assistant at Yoakum and twice at Goliad.
St. Joseph president Bill McArdle said the school had five finalists, four of which were interviewed, for the position.
The school enters the 2012-13 school year with a total enrollment of 322 and will begin play in TAPPS Division II this season.
The Flyers begin fall practice on August 6 and scrimmage Bloomington on August 18 and Edna on August 23. St. Joseph opens the regular season on August 31 at Goliad.
Advocate: What do you expect to see from the team when camp opens next month?
Auten: I'm real excited. I think we're going to get a lot of support, it'll be a little bit different than what I've had in the past, so that's exciting. I think there's going to be a lot of kids come out, I've had quite a few of them tell me they were going to come out who weren't going to come out before. I think we're going to have a good turnout and we seem to have great kids.
Advocate: When you were at Goliad you worked with former Flyers coach John Mares. Did he give you any advice about what it was going to be like at St. Joseph?
Auten: I called him just to kind of touch base with him. He said it was a great place and he stayed there for a long time. He said it would be a good job. (It's) A little bit of a different situation, we're unique with our coaches. All of our coaches have other jobs, that was the only thing that he said we'd have to work around, but we're going to work that out fine. We've been working hard to fix all that to where everybody can be a part of everything that we do. We have great guys.
Advocate: What might the offense look like this season?
Auten: I thought a little bit about it. I don't want to give much out, but I do play Goliad the first game so I don't want to give John too much information.
Advocate: How do you thing your previous stint in the area will help you at St. Joseph?
Auten: I think so. There's great kids down here and great people. I already know some of the people that I've come into contact with just from being in the area so long. My wife's family is from here so we know a few people. It won't hurt.
Advocate: How big of a disadvantage is it to not be a part of St. Joseph spring football?
Auten: Getting to know the kids, that would be the only disadvantage, I'd say I would have. I've never really coached at a school that allowed spring ball anyway so our main focus in the spring has been strength and conditioning and trying to prepare for next season in the weight room, not so much on the field. I don't feel like I'm at a disadvantage there, but we've been trying to meet and learn the boys as they come in. I still don't have them all down yet, I told them they have to keep telling me their name everyday because there's one of me and a whole bunch of them.
Advocate: How will coaching at a TAPPS school differ from your experience in public schools?
Auten: I don't see a whole lot of difference, TAPPS has great coaches, it has great athletes. When I was in Conroe, we got to watch on film some of the schools like St. Pius and some of the schools that play in TAPPS and they're great athletes. Football's football. It doesn't matter what level, UIL or TAPPS or what you're in. I don't see a whole lot of difference there.
Advocate: What did you learn during last season at Reagan County?
Auten: That was a unique experience. There's some good people in West Texas, but it's a lot different when you sit behind that chair (and) when you're actually in that spot. There's a little bit of difference here. I'm not the athletic director, which is nice, so I just really mainly get to focus on the football side of it and the other sports I'll do too. I'm just ready to get going.
Advocate: How you thought about how you're going to get the kids to rally around and adjust to you as a new head coach?
Auten: Last week, toward the end of the week, I started taking over the weight room a little bit and started doing the things that we're going to be doing. They see a big difference in what I do and what they've been doing. The word has kind of already gotten out that things are going to be a little bit different and I think they're really excited about it.
Advocate: What are going to be some of the ways you plan to put your imprint on this program and mold it after what your football philosophies are?
Auten: My philosophy's just play hard, love the kids and get after it. I don't have all these in depth philosophy's about things. We play fast and we play hard. Offensively, we play fast and defensively, we expect to punish people. I expect our defense to punish people. They're going to get yards, they're going to make catches, but when they do, I want them to understand that if they do it again, they're going to be punished. That's my philosophy, just go hard.
Advocate: Have you talked to the kids about things that can help you on the football field as well as in the classroom or in the future?
Auten: We will do some of that. We'll talk about a lot of that. A lot of people don't use the word love, we use the word love a whole lot. We believe in family and that was one of the big things in Reagan County that helped us out a lot. The kids knew that was a place where they were welcome all the time and that's the way it'll be here. We want them around, we don't want to run them off. We want them there and we'll go through all those different things.
Advocate: What should Flyers fans be excited about this season?
Auten: I don't think I've had a day where there hasn't been a smile on my face. Everyday I see a new kid and I kind of start to drool thinking about what they can do because they're big, they're tall, they're fast. They have all the attributes to be able to put together a great football program. That's what we want to do, we want to bring this program back to what it is and what it should be, a powerhouse in the Crossroads area and throughout the state.
Advocate: How much did the fact that this school has been successful play into your decision to come here?
Auten: It was huge. I knew that there was a solid foundation from the past. It wasn't going to be a situation where I was having to totally rebuild. I think there's a lot of that that's still there. I know they were down last year and they've fallen on a little rough time. But, I think the alumni, the parents and everybody knows it's there, we just have to get it out of them, so it was big.
Advocate: Is coming in during the front end of reclassification make the change easier?
Auten: They've played some of them last year in non-district games. I think they're excited, having dropped down. They know that last year they were playing some really big schools and our numbers had dropped so it was real hard every week. So I think they're real excited about that. It's going to be new for everybody. I know some of the schools that we're going to be with have some new coaches so there's a lot of transition going on. I think it's going to be good.
Advocate: Have you set some goals for this coming year?
Auten: Of course, everything revolves around winning. Not everything, but you want to win. You want to have a winning non-district season, you want to win games in district and make the playoffs and build on that as you go. I want to see us act right and I think our kids do. We're really lucky to have the parents that we have over there. I think a lot of the values that we have to teach a lot of times in athletics, that sometimes aren't taught at home, are getting taught here, which is going to make our job a lot easier. When the lights come on and the whistle blows, I want us to play with everything that we've got and do it within the rules. After the game, we're good. During the game, we're enemies, but after the game and before the game, everything is OK.