FLUSH — Rock Creek’s football program didn’t win a single game in 2018, going 0-9. But the Mustangs did land a big name in the offseason that could mean a turnaround is in the offing. Shane Sieben already led Rock Creek to a baseball state title. He even returned to the championship series in May before falling short to Sabetha.
He’s never going to say that he is the one true answer, either.
“Being the head coach takes a lot of responsibility no matter what,” Sieben said. “When you are talking about football, that’s more numbers than baseball. We are going from a roster of around about 32 to 34 in baseball to a roster of probably 50 or 60, somewhere in there, which is what I’m assuming.”
Going 0-9 won’t fly with Sieben. He’s barely lost that many games with Rock Creek’s baseball team. In five seasons as the Mustangs’ skipper, he’s won a staggering 87.1% of his games, with 101 victories against just 15 losses.
Now, he hopes that success transfers from the baseball diamond to the gridiron.
Sieben prides himself on the trust everyone has in his coaching staff and the knowledge his players have of the expectations placed on them.
“You have to let them do their thing, and that’s a big priority,” Sieben said. “Hire people who are better than you or smarter than you. That was my No.-1 priority: to hire guys who could help me. I’ve been around some great coaches. (Head) Coach (Joe) Schartz at Manhattan High has been good for me to learn from just from an organizational standpoint and trusting in the staff and how to run a program. He’s one of the top coaches in the state, and there’s nobody better to learn from than him.”
The differences between Sieben coaching baseball and football are clear, but there are tactics that work well for both. Even though football tends to be a more emotionally driven sport, Sieben said, it’s ultimately going to come down to understanding the fundamentals and executing. That’s something his baseball teams have done at an elite level.
Another change is attire.
“I don’t see myself wearing the wrong uniform,” Sieben said. “That’s probably a nicer thing, because in baseball I have to wear a uniform on the side. I’m not going to wear uniforms anymore. I’m too old for that. So I might be a little more comfortable on the sideline for football.”
Sieben already has implemented a new offensive scheme, one far more pass-heavy and which aims to use Rock Creek’s athletes more effectively.
Charlie Killingsworth will be the crux of the Mustangs’ offense at quarterback. Sieben couldn’t sing Killingsworth’s praises enough.
“He can make all the throws, has a really strong arm and he grew a lot this summer and grew a lot as a player and a leader,” Sieben said. “I wouldn’t say we have a stud who we can rely on to just make plays all the time, but we have a handful of kids who can all make plays. Bryant Golden is our speedster. Skyler Forge is the power package.”
Rock Creek primarily ran the football under former head coach Mike Beam, calling for more foot-to-foot splits and double-wing formations to pack the inside.
Killingsworth’s arm will take center stage now.
“The kids have joked that we have thrown the football more this summer than we have in the past four years,” Sieben said. “It’s a lot different than it has been. That doesn’t make it right, and it doesn’t make the old system wrong. I just think it fits our personnel better. Charlie has grown as a quarterback, and we are going to spread it out more than we have in the past. There’s no throw in the book that he can’t make right now.”