Schuckman: Changes are happening and will help Killday, Hawks create right trajectory


Quincy University football coach Jason Killday is implementing changes that seem subtle at the moment but will have a long-lasting impact on the success of the program. | Matt Schuckman photo

QUINCY — The changes are subtle, probably unnoticeable to many.

For those who see them, follow them, abide by them and trust them, the payoff should be substantial, at least that’s what the Quincy University football players need to be thinking.

The transition to a new head coach with new standards and ideals to go with a new offense has been challenging — the Hawks will tell you that — but they believe the end product will reflect the work they put into adapting to change.

Friday was the eighth practice of the spring, marking the midpoint of the 15 on-the-field workouts the Hawks are allowed. The spring workouts culminate at the end of April with what is expected to be a modified scrimmage. There won’t be a traditional spring game, because often that is a wasted day that is nothing more than a show.

First-year coach Jason Killday knows his staff and his team need every moment possible to build toward the fall. Every minute the coaches work with the players is another minute they drive home the message of doing things the right way.

That starts before they reach the practice field.

QU Stadium is located in a residential area with houses lining both 20th and Spruce Streets. A couple houses sit across from the stadium on Sycamore Street. To be respectful of that, the players are not allowed to park on the streets outside the venerable facility. They must use the parking lot to the north of the stadium.

There are no exceptions to that rule for the Hawks.

A subtle difference, but a noticeable one.

It translates to the energy and effort being put forth on the field. No lollygagging. No dancing to overly loud music. No dead time. The practice script is followed efficiently, sometimes quicker than the coaches expect. That opens the door to do more, practice harder, prepare better.

To get this program to where Killday wants and expects, it’s going to take work.

The Hawks’ 6-5 record last fall marked their first winning season since 2014 and just the fifth winning season in the last 28 years. In December, Gary Bass resigned after seven seasons as head coach to take a similar position at the University of Virginia-Wise, which is only a couple of hours from his North Carolina hometown.

Immediately, the QU administration turned to Killday, a former QU assistant coach who spent the past eight seasons as the offensive coordinator at Truman State University. Moving closer to his hometown of Winchester, Ill., puts Killday in position to run his own program and implement changes he believes will help create success.

The bigger goal is for those moves to sustain success.

Some changes, like the style of offense, will be widely noticeable. Others are truly subtle. Seeing how the big and small changes work hand-in-hand to forge success will be the turning point in getting the Hawks to fully buy-in to Killday’s ways and put the program on the right trajectory.

If how the spring practices are unfolding offers a glimpse of what’s to come, the path is clear.

Killday and the Hawks are heading in the right direction.

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