Lance Holupka spent Friday night breaking down video of the United High School football team.
Temperatures hovered in the 80s and Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game is another 10 days away, but Holupka eagerly hit the play button.
Consider it among the first steps in his plan to improve a Lions program that was winless in 2012.
“I know expectations aren’t that high as far as everywhere else, but the No. 1 thing I told the kids is our expectations are going to be the highest,” said Holupka, who was named United’s head football coach during last month’s school board meeting. “Our expectations are to win every game. Sometimes you can’t do that, but if your expectations aren’t to win every game, then why are you doing it? Why are you here?
“We’re preaching what we can do as a team if we put our minds together and work to a common goal.”
Holupka is a United product through and through.
He played for the Lions during the program’s glory years under Hall of Fame coach Frank Krevetski in the late 1980s and served as an assistant coach at United under multiple coaches.
“I can’t say enough about how much Coach Krevetski influences me,” said Holupka, who last season was part of the Kiski School’s staff. “If you know Coach Krevetski football, that’s what you’re going to see out of me. Every time I’ve been around that man, he has produced wins. I would be a fool to say I’m going to do it another way. Everything I’ve learned from him has produced wins. Hopefully, that produces wins in the future.”
United is coming off an 0-10 season. The Lions went 4-5 in 2011 after making the playoffs in each of former head coach Greg Mytrysak’s first two seasons.
Holupka assisted Mytrysak during the playoff seasons in 2009 and 2010.
“What we’re hoping to do right now is build some numbers,” Holupka said. “We’re looking to have close to 40 players out.
“We’re teaching the game. We’re teaching what Coach Krevetski had always taught me,” he added. “I learned a lot under him, coaching with him and playing under him. We’re being held accountable for everything we do. Everything is an evaluation. The kids are responding to that.”
As a player, Holupka was on United teams that went 12-1, 9-4 and 7-3 his final three seasons, respectively, under Krevetski and George Busovicki.
He’s served as an assistant to former United coaches Krevetski, Chris Matava and Mytrysak. Holupka also was an assistant at Homer-Center.
Holupka said he’s assembling a coaching staff. He stressed the Lions will play United’s brand of football, focusing on defense and a strong running game complemented by the pass.
“We’ve got our backs against the wall, no doubt about it,” he said. “But we like the challenge. We’ll keep plugging away and do what we do.”
“Our base philosophy is definitely going to be a physical style,” Holupka said. “We can be a physical team and still be able to throw the ball a little bit.
“United football has always been predicated on playing good defense. When our teams had success, our defense would come and we would play a physical brand. We’re not going to back down to anyone. That’s what we’re preaching too.”