ANACONDA — New Anaconda head football coach Jesse Robins has experienced quite a few firsts over the past couple years.
First full-time teaching gig. First assistant coaching position. And, now, his first head coaching job.
A graduate of Billings Central and the University of Montana, the soon-to-be fourth-year math teacher is excited to get his tenure rolling.
With a staff already in place, the Copperheads are entering a new era after Bob Orrino resigned after 15 years. Robins has been on the Anaconda coaching staff for two seasons, but already has a good idea of what the community is expecting.
“I think it’s a lot of responsibility,” he said. “I think that the town definitely pays a lot of attention to the team and what they’re doing on the field and what they end up producing at the end of the game.
“I don’t take this job lightly.”
Robins didn’t play college football, but was a linebacker and tight end for the Rams, saying he played just about anywhere they needed him.
Coaching seemed a natural progression and it didn’t take long for him to get involved at Anaconda. When the head coaching job opened, Robins didn’t hesitate.
“I’ve liked coaching the past couple years, it’s been a lot of fun,” he said. “I kinda wanted to keep doing it. When we had the turnover on the staff I kind of thought about where I wanted to go from there and then I decided to apply.”
Maintaining some continuity is important to Robins so keeping "Spanky" Sanders as an assistant coach was a priority. Robins added Austin Barth and Riley Schell to round out the staff.
Barth is a former Montana State tight end and Schell played at Carroll College. Both assistants will take teaching positions at the middle school.
“The biggest unknown we had at the beginning was really the staff,” Robins said. “I think we got really lucky with these guys coming in. Really lucky.”
Robins says the coaching staff and the players have met to work out summer schedules and get the athletes in the weight room. The group loses a lot off last year’s squad, including Providence signee Trent Mikalatos and Montana greyshirt Braxton Hill.
It was a talented group with deep-strike capability. They’ll be in the hunt for a new quarterback and several receivers.
Robins expects the playbook to change a bit, but doesn’t seem to want to make any drastic moves.
“We’re not going to rewrite the book or come up with an entirely new thing that no one has ever seen before,” he said. “I don’t think that would be very smart.”
Robins does plan to put more emphasis on statistics. While analytics perhaps aren’t used as much in football as in other sports such as basketball, they certainly still have their uses.
“I do think statistics kind of govern a lot of what ends up happening in sports. But you know it’s something I like to focus on a lot, but it’s not always the correct way of approaching things,” Robins said. “If it was there would be a cut-and-dry do this, do that, do these.
“But I do analyze a lot of statistics to help us think about what we can do to get better.”
Robins said he also wants to get his players out in the community more, especially his seniors. He wants them to be more visible and promoting the program in a positive light.
It’s certainly not his only vision of the way forward for the Anaconda Copperheads.
“The thing I want to see with the kids every single day they come to the field is to take a sense of ownership of the program,” Robins said. “I want them to compete in everything they do and maintain a mentality of always trying to get better.”