Fielding questions about how he’ll move forward the N.C. Wesleyan football program during his first full offseason as coach, Bishops head man Jeff Filkovski took a phone call Wednesday afternoon.
On the other line was a recruit, who has reportedly run a 4.2 40-yard dash – exceptional speed on the football field – letting Filkovski know that his commitment was official.
With a finger swipe to his smart phone, Filkovski quickly combined the two major parts of his plan to bring the Bishops back to its recent championship-caliber history.
He wants to bring in recruits who can compete immediately on a team with just 19 upperclassmen.
But he wants discipline at all levels.
“I’m looking for people that want to be special, not just in the game of football but in life,” Filkovski said. “... If they’re doing everything right off the football field, we are going to be such a better team on the football field.”
N.C. Wesleyan has won just seven games in the past three years combined, but as Filkovski prepares for his second season as coach and works through his first full offseason, he knows there’s a need for a new philosophy.
Filkovski said that he has seen an increased number of returners from his first year, and he has put a “team council,” a small group of players who serve as leaders, into place.
“We’re finding more leadership out of the group,” said Filkovski, whose team finished 2-8 overall and 2-5 in USA South play during his first seaosn in Rocky Mount. “This program has been in the downs a little bit the last three years. ... Things needed to change, and the change needed to come from within.”
Leading the team this year on the field will be a returning pair of All-Conference selections. Dynamic running Jacques Alston and hard-hitting safety Travonne Marshall, who graduated from Tarboro High School, will be the play-making leaders of the Bishops.
Alston finished last season with a team-high 1,510 all-purpose yards and 10 touchdowns while Marshall was second on the team with 62 total tackles and picked off three passes, a team-best.
“They are as good as I’ve been around at this level,” said Filkovski, who returns the majority of his offense from last season. “Those are guys that, certainly talent-wise, you look at and say those are the guys that need to be carrying the torch.”
Filkovski quickly went on to point out a fact that the majority of football coaches know.
Flash and skill are great, but especially for a coach emphasizing discipline, the Bishops will be successful based on how they perform in the trenches.
“If you look at any successful football team, up front is the character of that football team – offensive and defensive lines,” Filkovski said. “They’ve got to bring the toughness and the righteousness for the direction of the program. ... They’ve got to be the guys, when you look at the true character of a football team and you walk in whatever room, that’s what you’re going to look at.”
Justin Hite can be reached at 407-9951 or jhite@rmtelegram