The moment Ty Bullock stepped foot on the Tecumseh High School campus, he was determined to bring the Savages' football program back from the depths.
“One of the most important things for us is we have built relationships with our players,” Bullock said. “All of our staff is genuine and cares about our athletes. Our kids would run through a wall for us and ultimately that's what we want.”
In 2016 the Savages went 1-10. Last year, under the leadership of Bullock, the Savages improved to 4-6. One of the main things Bullock credits is injecting enthusiasm back into the program.
“When I first got here I met with all the athletes, we even met with those who weren't out for sports,” Bullock said. “I told them even if they don't come out for football they could be in the stands on Friday nights.”
The season before Bullock, there were around 35 kids out for football. To start this season, Tecumseh has around 80 players on the roster.
“It's a day-by-day process, and we are still rebuilding, but with that many kids out for football you can feel something special is on the horizon.”
For the students who don't go out for football, Bullock encouraged them to cheer on their friends and peers.
“There is nothing better than Friday night football,” Bullock said. “I want to give all the kids a chance to be part of something special.”
There was a quarterback battle early in camp between senior Caleb Kelsey and junior Will Hilton. Recently, Hilton was named the starter.
“Will has all the intangibles you want in a quarterback,” Bullock said. “His leadership ability is second to none. He's an accurate passer and he's one of the toughest kids we have.”
Running the ball is Tecumseh's bread an butter. With that said, the Savages have a surplus of lineman. Starters average 290-pounds on the offensive line.
“Games are won in the trenches and from an offensive standpoint we are really going to hang our hat on our group of lineman. They are big, strong kids and that's a blessing to have. Hopefully our size and strength can do some damage.”
The offensive line will be anchored by senior Caeden Shirey.
The 6'1" 275-pound wrestler just so happens to be one of Tecumseh’s best football players. Coach Bullock raved about his nastiness on the gridiron. The stalwart of the Tecumseh front line tore his ACL early in his high school career and rebounded to start all 10 games for the Savages last season.
Even through Tecumseh is a run-heavy team, Bullock feels his team can let it fly on occasion.
“I think we can efficiently pass the ball,” Bullock said. “Our run game will set up the pass and will keep defenses on their heels.”
The Tecumseh Savages' summer pride program was a success, Bullock said.
“We play a ton of kids so with that my philosophy is to get as many kids involved as possible,” Bullock said. “We will have a rotation in our backfield and at receiver. In return, the competition level in practice is amped up. Our guys know there is always someone trying to take their spot and that's a great problem to have.”
New to the coaching staff this year is Larry Joubert and Phillip Spess. Jourbert will serve as the defensive coordinator and Spess as a defensive assistant. Bullock is excited about the energy and expertise both bring to the program, he said.
Looking forward to the season, Bullock is determined to get the Savages back to the playoffs.
“We are still in the infant stage of the program where we can't take anybody for granted,” Bullock said. “We have been taken for granted for so long. Last year we were homecoming for four teams. We have to get the respect back. Toughness can win you a lot of games and that is the mindset we are going to come with every Friday.”
Tecumseh's first game is Aug. 31 at home against Bethel. In week two, Tecumseh will host area powerhouse Seminole. Both games are scheduled for a 7 p.m. start.