ETSN.fm sat down with third-year Tyler Lee coach Darrell Piske on Wednesday just minutes before his team's third spring practice of the year.

A wide variety of topics were discussed, including an interesting competition at the quarterback position between the incumbent Zach Hall and recent move-in Michael Ross, a transfer from Harmony -- both incoming juniors.

ETSN.fm Q & A With Tyler Lee Coach Darrell Piske

  • ETSN.fm: You were 1-9 in your first year as head coach and followed that up with an improved 2013 season in which your team finished 4-6. What are some key areas that need to be addressed in order for them to take the next step?
  • Darrell Piske: Really, the secondary was the biggest concern coming into the spring. We turned everybody into a passing team last year, and so that's a big focus for us. Part of that is building depth in skill kids. And right now we don't have a lot of depth in the skill positions, so we're trying to make sure we develop depth with some offensive guys crossing over to defense. Last year at the quarterback spot, doing what we were doing offensively, when Zach got hurt we really only hd one quarterback that was a run threat. That's what made us the most dangerous offensively last year. We're trying to develop enough depth to where if something like that happens again, it's no so catastrophic to our team as far as wins and losses.

 

Tyler Lee quarterback Zach Hall is on the run during a spring practice Wednesday in Tyler. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

 

  • ETSN: It's no secret that your 2016 class of incoming juniors will be at the forefront in the fall. How impressed have you been with that class' level of improvement from last year at this point to now?
  • DP: Overall we're getting better, our attitude's getting better, our work ethic's getting better, our commitment to success is getting better overall. We told the kids yesterday "we're never going to be satisfied. If we win a state championship, we'll celebrate and hug you on that Saturday night, but Monday we're going to start chewing on your butt for next year." We're getting better, but we're still not going to be satisfied until we raise that gold ball. Overall, they're committed. They're getting bigger, faster, stronger and they're more football smart. We made some mistakes last year that cost us ballgames, and a lot of it was youth -- trying to do too much and making the big mistake in a key moment.

 

Tyler Lee quarterback Michael Ross surveys the field during a spring practice Wednesday in Tyler. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

 

  • ETSN: With Michael Ross transferring in and Zach Hall already with starting experience at quarterback, will this be a situation where you'll settle on one guy?
  • DP: It's hard to tell right now. It just depends on how they can both fit in the offense and make the offense go. Zach's tremendous back there, touching the ball every snap. He's not a true wildcat -- most wildcats can't throw a lick -- but he can throw and is a great athlete. Looking at Michael so far -- I haven't seen that much under duress -- but he throws the ball really well, but he can actually move. We won't be able to put enough pressure on him right now in the spring, because you don't want to take a chance. By the time we come out of spring we'll know about how we can fit them in. We just don't know how much Zach will be under center, how much Michael will be under center. We'll get a better determination of how we're going to use them. Right now, after just seeing (Michael) for two days in pads with the quick whistle blown by the old coach, I can't tell you a whole lot right now. But the competition's good; any time you have competition it makes both of them better.

 

Tyler Lee defensive backs go through drills during a spring practice Wednesday in Tyler. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

 

  • ETSN: It's been a while since Tyler Lee has had a quarterback that can be relied upon consistently to carry the team. And now you potentially have two.
  • DP: Both of them are going to make each other better. They're both going to compete and get after it and work hard. And not just some of the time, but all the time because they know "hey, I can't let that kid beat me because then he'll be the starter and I'll be on the bench." Depending on how Michael progresses and we see what Michael can do, besides being able to move Zach around, he's a pretty good athlete. He's someone where the defense has to know where he is. If Michael develops enough to where we can go out and say 'this time Zach is inside, this time Zach is at tailback, this time he's at quarterback and now he's out there at outside,' the defense is going to have to pay attention to it. Maybe you can motion shift and do whatever and put them in a bind where he's isolated one-on-one, and you're going to win that a lot of the time. It gives us an opportunity to maybe look at some other things, but really at this point we really have no idea how they're going to fit in just because we haven't seen Michael enough. We know what Zach can do and with the development he's going to make over this spring, on into this summer and into next fall, he's going to get a lot better at the quarterback position.

 

  • ETSN: With outsiders not paying much attention to the program, do you feel like the players are using that as motivation?
  • DP: Just winning's better. I don't know if it's a chip on the shoulder, but you're in a lot better mood when you're winning and having success. Everything looks better, the food tastes better, the water tastes better; everything's better when you're winning. They're tired (of losing) and they've put in a lot of work; we ask a lot out of them. We have to have a little attitude when we play, but I don't know if that's their motivating factor. This group of seniors wants to be in the playoffs; they haven't been there since they've been in high school. They don't want to be the group that goes all the way through high school without getting in the playoffs. The seniors are going to determine how we good we are just on their leadership, even though some of those juniors are going to be key players.

 

Tyler Lee third-year head coach Darrell Piske addresses his team during a spring practice Wednesday in Tyler. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)