Jason Filbeck is no stranger to success on the football field.
As a wide receiver at Liberty High School, Filbeck’s team had an 11-2 season and made a run during the postseason. It was cut short by the eventual state champion team that featured four future NFL players, including the San Francisco 49ers’ star defensive tackle Justin Smith, with whom Filbeck had the privilege of sharing a collision, of which Filbeck took the brunt of the hit.
At Baker University, Filbeck’s team finished with an 11-2 record and competed in a bowl game.
Now, Filbeck is hoping to bring that successful mentality to Augusta High School’s football program, where the Orioles haven’t had much success of late. Filbeck, who was hired as the new Orioles’ head coach two weeks ago, is hoping to raise expectations within the program, school and community.
“You have to expect a lot, because if you don’t expect much, you don’t do much,” Filbeck said.
Filbeck’s first coaching job, an assistant at SM East, was new territory for him. SM East struggled with several losing seasons and failed to compete with the several other more dominant schools in the area. But the coaching staff eventually figured things out, and turned it around. Filbeck, who got promoted to assistant coach and defensive coordinator during his tenure, watched his team compete in the Class 6A state championship game. Derby won the title game 28-21 to hand SM East its first and only loss of the season.
Filbeck, now a first-time head coach, said that time when he watched the program grow prepared him for when he took over a team, and he’s hoping to replicate that turnaround with Augusta.
“I’d like to think that it’s taught me what not to do and what to do,” Filbeck said. “…Those early years at Shawnee Mission East kind of prepared me for when I take over a job, it might be a 2-7 team, and that’s okay. Because 2-7 is not that far away from 7-2. It really isn’t. It’s just got to be organized, and the efforts have to be combined. In a way, it makes me hungrier because losing is terrible, and it hurts.”
Filbeck is planning on his mantra—homework, hard work, teamwork—setting a new tone for the Orioles.
“If we’re smart and know our job, and we put in the efficient hours and work hard, and then we play hard for each other, it takes care of a lot of stuff,” Filbeck said.
Part of the Orioles’ improvement process will be to get more athletes to come out and play, something that can be an issue for a team that doesn’t have the deepest team to begin with.
“The kids in the building that aren’t playing football that should be, they’ve got to come out. We’ve got to get numbers, because football is a numbers game. We’re not going to play 11 kids, we’re going to play 22, 25 maybe.”
Filbeck doesn’t want to concern himself too much with the problems of the past.
“I’m not concerned with that, because I wasn’t here,” Filbeck said. “I don’t know last year’s team. I won’t have last year’s team. I have next year’s team. If you drive your car looking in the rearview mirror, you’re going to crash.”
More than anything, Filbeck wants to surround the program, school and community with excitement for football once again. For his players, he knows it can be a challenge doing so in the midst of a struggling period in Augusta’s football history.
“They just need to fall in love with the sport of football again,” Filbeck said.