Mose Phillips knew the job at Hillwood wouldn’t be easy, but he says the Hilltoppers are making progress.
Phillips, the former Hillsboro and University of Tennessee star, took over the Hillwood program after the Toppers went 0-10 in 2006.
The program took baby steps in 2007, earning a 38-14 win over Glencliff late in the season. The Toppers also took Gallatin to the limit, falling 24-17 in September.
So Phillips said his goal in the offseason was to build on that performance by demanding total commitment to the program. It seems to have worked: he says 35 varsity players have participated every day of offseason workouts and 25 freshmen players have showed up. Those aren’t bad numbers for a program that has won one game in the last two years.
“They’ve dedicated themselves for the upcoming season,” Phillips said. “The dedication was very high.”
Phillips says a big part of getting things turned around at Hillwood is developing a competitive attitude. He has tried to instill that by opening up virtually every practice, weight session and conditioning drill into a contest, with winners rewarded.
“We’re just looking for a competitive nature from the ballclub,” Phillips said.
The next phase of Hillwood’s rebuilding will come from a talented upcoming junior class, led by quarterback Ricky Bedell. Bedell also is drawing interest as a kicker prospect from a number of Division I schools, including Kentucky, MTSU and Duke.
Defensive back/receiver Brandon Brown provides Bedell with a pretty good target at 6-2, 180 pounds. Brown has 4.4 speed and Phillips said he has had “a real good offseason.”
The linebacking trio of Toney Tillman, Julian Robinson-Parks and Jonathan Brewster (a junior) will also be a big key for the Toppers.
Tillman was a hard worker in the weight room in the offseason, building up to a 560-pound squat, according to Phillips.
Robinson-Parks, who also plays center, is the “strongest, pound-for-pound, person on the team,” Phillips said.
Meanwhile, Brewster shows the potential to be a leader of the defense.
“He’s one of the toughest kids we have in this program,” Phillips said. “He’s becoming an outstanding leader for the program.”