FARMINGTON — The Newcomb Skyhawks turned to a familiar face to lead its rising football program, promoting assistant coach Bill McLaughlin to head coach for 2020.
McLaughlin will take command of a squad that’s won 26 games since 2017, highlighted by back-to-back state quarterfinals appearances in 2017 and 2018 and a district title in 2019.
“I want to build on that. I think continuity is going to be a big factor in making that happen. Our program reached new heights the last two years,” McLaughlin said. “When you win, it breeds confidence. Our kids have played in a lot of big games.”
McLaughlin, also Newcomb’s girls basketball coach, coached the Skyhawks’ offensive line, defensive line and running backs the previous two seasons under Eric Stovall, who took over as Aztec’s next football coach in March.
“My familiarity is a big plus,” McLaughlin said, adding he will also take on offensive coordinator duties. “That’s going to make the transition easier. (The players) know my mannerisms on the field… they know who I am and what I expect fro a work ethic standpoint.”
Assessing incoming personnel, McLaughlin said Newcomb will switch from its air raid spread offense to a run-first triple option offense. McLaughlin also said the Skyhawks will throw some play-action and drop-back passes into the mix.
“It allows you to play with undersized linemen and to be balanced,” said McLaughlin, who previously served as Tohatchi’s football coach in 1995. “It’s going to be a big change. We’re still going to spread it, but we’re going to be more a true triple option offense… It’s going to be a new learning curve for these kids.”
McLaughlin also said Newcomb’s defense, which previously ran a four-man front, will go with 3-3-5 and 3-5-3 attacking, gap control defensive schemes to help the Skyhawks utilize their quickness at the linebacker position.
“It give us an opportunity to cover and play more secondary looks… (the 3-3 scheme) gives us the flexibility to adjust,” McLaughlin said. “We can rotate a lot of kids in. It’s going to allow us to play some of our smaller, quicker kids. It’s going to let us play more aggressive, play at a faster speed.”
Once the 2020 campaign begins, Newcomb will move up from Class 2A to Class 3A.
“They can make some noise out there,” Central Consolidated School District Athletic Director Ben Tensay said. “Playing these tougher schools has helped them improve the last two years. I think they’re going to be just fine coming into 3A.”
For now, McLaughlin hopes the COVID-19 pandemic won’t dash the 2020 season altogether for the Skyhawks.
“They’re bored at home… I’m right there with them. It’s like a bad dream,” McLaughlin said.
Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577 and on Twitter at @MattH_717.