Weber State vs. Montana State 12

Weber State head coach Jay Hill (right) encourages offensive lineman Iosua Opeta (55) as WSU defeated Montana State 34-24 on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018, at Stewart Stadium in Ogden.

OGDEN — A second-straight trip to the quarterfinals resulted in a loss for Weber State football, but there’s little time to spend on that fact for Jay Hill and his coaching staff. With the early signing period opening next week, coaches have already flipped the switch to the 2019 season.

Reached by phone while recruiting, Hill shared his take on the 2018 season and the transition to 2019.

“Whether you win or whether you lose, you can’t dwell on it,” Hill said. “The reality of where we’re at is that one team gets to end with a win. Were we wanting to get to the national championship game and prove what we’re all about? Absolutely. Did we end this season prematurely? In my opinion, absolutely. Does that hurt? It does.

“But there’s no way I’m going to let that take away from what an awesome season it was. We got our No. 1 goal, which was to win a Big Sky championship again. Everyone going in was wondering if we could possibly repeat because of all the key losses we had, and we did that. To reach your No. 1 goal, it’s a successful season. We went past that. We go into the playoffs as the No. 2 seed, which was a huge deal for our program. We go and get a bye and a win in the playoffs again. There’s way too many positives to dwell on ending early.

“One team ends in a win, that’s it. We’ll be there someday. I know it. We just have to keep getting better,” he said.

Hill said the process of getting better is multi-faceted: increase talent through recruiting, get current players bigger and faster in the weight room, and get players more well-versed in schemes and philosophies.

“It’s all that that we’ve got to try to take steps forward in. We’ve done that in each of the last five years, and we’ve got to do it again,” he said. “We need to keep looking for those steps forward that we can make to become a top two or three team in the country. We’re close, but we’ve got to take one more step.”

When Jason Kaufusi left WSU’s staff after the 2016 season to coach at Nevada, Hill took over as defensive coordinator. He’s called defensive plays the last two seasons but is unsure if that will be the case come 2019.

“I always assess that based on where we’re at,” Hill said. “I’ve got really good coaches on my defensive staff, so I’d feel comfortable giving any one of those four guys (Kite Afeaki, Colton Swan, Grant Duff, Joe Dale) the reins to this now because we’re all on the same page. That’s not been determined just exactly yet.”

Does Hill expect staff departures? He’s not sure, but, “I’ve got some of the best coaches in FCS football, so if people came calling to hire them away, that would not surprise me a lick,” he said.

2019 SCHEDULE

For the first time since 2008, Weber State will play six home games in 2019. But unlike 2008, all six will be against Division I teams. WSU hosts Cal Poly and Northern Iowa, the latter a 2018 playoff qualifier, in non-conference action, while traveling to San Diego State and Nevada.

The Wildcats’ four Big Sky home games are Southern Utah, Northern Arizona, North Dakota and Idaho State. WSU travels to Idaho, UC Davis, Sacramento State and Montana in conference play.

It will be the first time since 2014 that WSU will play 12 regular-season games.

Contact Brett Hein at bhein@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter @bhein3/@WeberHQ and at facebook.com/WeberStateSports.

Brett Hein is the sports editor and covers Weber State sports for the Standard-Examiner.

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