Springfield, Ore. -- Springfield high school had a rough year in 2017 and coaching turnover affected the participation rates in a huge way. But with Adam Jones, who was an offensive coordinator with the Millers during their best years, back in the fold, SHS is ready to make a step towards returning to the playoffs.
"You know, you have to take some positives from what went on last year and I know these...a lot of it has to do with three head coaches in three years for these kids," says Jones, the Millers head football coach. "They're a group of kids that deserve better than that and I think that was a lot of...the issue with the numbers last year is no continuity in the program."
Adam Jones came back for the head coaching stint at Springfield, hoping to revitalize the Millers. And older players who have seen it all for a return to normalcy.
"All these coaching changes it's hard to get a stable foundation to build a good football program off of and when he's coming back I feel like it's a good foundation to build off what we left off of," says Arturo Diaz, a senior who has seen the highs and lows of Springfield football.
Where last year Springfield opened up camp with 29 kids, this year started with over 60.
"It allows us to have competition in practice," Jones explains. "We have depth again, we have guys competing in spots and you have to have numbers in a football program."
"Well it's like a big difference because of the fact that we have more competition," Diaz says. "We can really compete for different spots and you're not handed a spot because of your age or how big you are, it's you have to be the better player throughout everything you do."
But don't expect a state title overnight.
"I mean it's hard process," cautions Jones. "There's a...it's a long task and I think last year we made great strides towards getting where we want to be and getting back to that but I don't think it showed up in wins and losses."
The improvement will come, he believes, but bridges need to be rebuilt.
"Three head coaches in three years, there wasn't a lot of trust here a year ago and that trust is here," he concludes. "Kids are excited, there's a buzz about football again and I think they're ready to have some success."
This year is a start though, and Jones and his staff are in it for the long run.