Tunstall’s football team has been on the rise the past few seasons, as evidenced last year when the Trojans went 7-5 and defeated Piedmont District-rival Magna Vista in the first round of the Region 3D playoffs.
But 2019 is a new season with new faces all around. David Potts stepped down as the team’s head coach back in February, and the Trojans promoted Randy Hunsicker from offensive coordinator to head coach for this upcoming season. Hunsicker has served as the offensive coordinator the past four years and is entering his 10th season as a member of the Tunstall coaching staff. Now as the head coach, he intends to add a few wrinkles to both sides of the ball that fans haven’t seen in Dry Fork recently.
Hunsicker spoke with the Bulletin about the transition and what fans can expect on the field this season from Tunstall football.
» How has the transition gone from being an assistant coach to being the head coach?
» Hunsicker: The transition has been pretty good. I’ve been running the offense for the last four years, so for the offense I’ve been running practice anyways. … The thing that’s been more difficult is the things outside of football, dealing with things in school, dealing with more responsibility with the parents, the booster clubs, with everything that goes with it that I hadn’t had to deal with before.
» How much of a different style do you plan bringing as a first-year head coach?
» RH: For the most part, the offense is going to be relatively the same as what I’ve been working with … with a few wrinkles here and there that we aren’t going to talk about yet. The defense, I got a new defensive coordinator. Coach Potts used to do the defense. Donald Smith, who was over at GW for a while, played in professional football a year, Canadian football, he’s bringing a different look. We’ve been a 3-4 team for a number of years, but now we’re transitioning to a 4-3, a hybrid where we can go back and forth. The biggest thing is I want us to be more aggressive on both sides of the ball. I don’t want to just be a run team like the last couple years. We have a veteran quarterback. We have to be able to get more balanced with that. And on defense we have to force more turnovers, so be more aggressive, maybe blitzing on early downs, different types of coverages that we haven’t done in the past. That’s what we’re trying to work right now.
» What can fans expect from your new-look offense?
» RH: In the past few years, we’ve had Clay [Hardy] and Trevor Lovelace who used to run the ball a lot for us the last four years. We don’t have that one feature back right now. We have a lot of backs that do a lot of things well, and we’re going to try to put them in situations where they can show their talents in the best way possible. Our quarterback, Dylan Burnette, has started since he was a freshman. Now he’s a junior. He’s more comfortable with the offense, he understands more about coverages, he understands more about the route tree. He’s going to be a big part about us being more balanced than anything we’ve done so far. We’ve lost about three starting linemen. That’s where I’m working the hardest right now. My thing is supposed to be offensive line. We had a couple that played at times last year, so they’re familiar with what we’re doing and they’re working hard right now.
» What area of the defense right now is in the best spot to make an impact immediately, and where is the next step for your defense?
» RH: Right now at each level there are a couple of kids that are standing out right now, from the defensive line to the linebackers to the defensive backs. I don’t think any one group is standing above the others right now. We’ve been a cover-4 basic team since I’ve been here, and the biggest thing is trying to convert the defensive backs to learn how to do cover 2, a little man-to-man, a little cover 3, something we’re not accustomed to doing, and that’s going to be with a lot more drills, a lot more game experience, but we’re trying to get that way.
» How do you keep the program moving in the right direction, even with the loss of key players, after the positive steps you took last season?
» RH: It’s development. It’s development from when they’re in youth league … getting up to JV where they start to work in our system and working in the weight room for the first time, to understanding what they’re doing at a higher level with the varsity. It’s a process. I’ve seen it with a lot of kids, especially with the linemen, over the years where you look at them and when they first come in you’re like, ‘I don’t know if this kid’s ever going to be an athlete,’ to by the time they’re juniors and seniors they’ve worked hard with their bodies in the weight room and then conditioning, and they’re contributing to the team.