Cedar Park Head Coach Carl Abseck started his head coaching career with 28 straight wins, including a 2015 5A state title, before his Timberwolves fell to Manvel in the regional semifinals last year, 47-35. Abseck is known as one of the more emotional coaches in Central Texas, and he gave us some great answers when we asked to interview him about the upcoming season.
TEXASHSFOOTBALL.COM: Here at TexasHSFootball.com, we’re big believers that even in this spread-you-out, basketball-on-grass era of football, games are still very much won in the trenches. Having said that, who are your big guys up front on offense, and how do you feel about that unit going into the fall?
COACH ABSECK: Our Offensive line will be a strength for us in 2017, Jonathan Kelly at center, Mason Brooks at Left Tackle, and Trajaan Chase at Left Guard are all returning starters and have had a great off season of preparation. We have several candidates to fill in the remaining holes from graduation including, Braeden Hufford, Hunter Parks, Nicholas Lannan, Garrett Drager, Jacob Gross, and Daniel Vallee. This will provide us with quality depth and what I believe will be a standout group for us.
TEXASHSFOOTBALL.COM: Quarterback Mak Sexton is back for his senior year to lead an offense that averaged 40 points per game last season. This will be his third year as your starting quarterback. How does it feel to have a guy with that much experience calling the shots?
COACH ABSECK: We are blessed to have Mak Sexton back as our quarterback, especially as a third year starter. It is nice to know going into any game that our QB will have been in about any situation that can come up in a football game and that he can rely on experience to work through the situation. I believe he is one of the best QB’s in the state of Texas at any level and I am glad he is our QB.
TEXASHSFOOTBALL.COM: With linebackers Jackson Buckingham and Keegan Nichols back to anchor a ballhawking defense, what kind of expectations should we be putting on the perennially stout ‘Black Rain?’
COACH ABSECK: Our expectations for the defense this year is to try and raise the bar from what was established last season and the season before. We have a lot of guys back who have played a lot of football and take great pride in swarming the ball and playing fast. We always expect to be a great defensive team and this year is no exception.
TEXASHSFOOTBALL.COM: Special teams is often an overlooked part of the game, yet Bill Belichick is always preaching it, the Patriots finish among the top special teams units in the league every year, and wouldn’t you know, but New England is always among the last teams standing at the end of the season. How important do you think special teams is? And who are the guys that will be playing those roles for y’all this year?
COACH ABSECK: We believe in being strong in all three phases of the game, we practice that way and we always put the best guy that we can on our special forces units. Many of our starters on defense and offense will line up and be a part of the special forces teams.
TEXASHSFOOTBALL.COM: In an era of football where offensive records are being shattered on a regular basis, y’all have built a championship-caliber program that prides itself on defense. Y’all pitched six shutouts last year, and in your 2015 state championship season, only one team scored more than 24 points on you. What is the key to playing good defense in this era of football?
COACH ABSECK: First we have a great group of coaches that work tirelessly to prepare for each opponent. Second, we put the best athletes that we can on the defensive side of the ball, train them and then let them play. The biggest key is how we practice, the speed at which we practice and then our kids doing a great job of learning our opponent through video, etc.
TEXASHSFOOTBALL.COM: Central Texas High School football has been on a major upswing the last ten years. How does it feel to play a role in the rise of Austin-area football, and how do you feel the competition has changed over the last decade?
COACH ABSECK: I think the quality of coaching has continued to improve in the central Texas area as people have moved here to start up programs or take over established ones. The kids in the area work hard at becoming the best athlete that they can be and they have an expectation of success. We know week in and week out we better be ready to play or we can be beat as there are a lot of really good programs in our area.
TEXASHSFOOTBALL.COM: You’re going into just your third year as a head football coach at the varsity level, but you were an assistant for a long time before that. What’s the most difficult part about transitioning from an assistant role to being the big man in charge?
COACH ABSECK: I think having to have a full picture view of what is going on is a bigger challenge as opposed to really focusing on one side of the ball or as a position coach. Delegation and trust is key to allowing me to do all the things that are required with the new role and I am fortunate to work with a great group of coaches who are as dedicated and driven for success as myself. The added role as Athletic Coordinator for our campus is the biggest change, football is football, but I also need to be accessible to all the coaches on our staff that coach all the different sports that we offer and give them the tools that they need to be just as successful as I want to be with football. Our goal at Cedar Park High School is to be the Lone Star Cup Champions, and that takes all of us being successful in our sports in order to achieve that goal.
TEXASHSFOOTBALL.COM: You started your head coaching career with 27 straight wins before falling in the regional semifinals to Manvel last year. Was that first loss a shock to the system? How did the kids react to that defeat?
COACH ABSECK: We were actually blessed to have won 28 straight games before the Manvel loss last year, and it did sting because we were not able to achieve all the goals that we had set for our team. It did provide our guys with an increased incentive to improve, and work exceptionally hard in order to make sure that we don’t have a repeat defeat because of the areas we were deficient in last year. Our job is to take the season one game at a time, focus on the task at hand, and try to win one game at a time.
TEXASHSFOOTBALL.COM: How do you feel about the job your youth, middle school and sub-varsity coaches do at getting your players ready for the varsity level?
COACH ABSECK: We have a close relationship with them, our coaches work to train them in what we do on offense and defense so that they can start the process early. Our middle school coaches are top of the line led by Brendan McCarthy and they continue to develop those kids and teach them the basics and fundamentals that transfer greatly to our high school program. Each of them help us on Friday nights, Saturday film breakdowns and are an integral part of what we do. At the high school, I don’t have a sub varsity staff, all of my coaches work with each level of our program and train them from the time they step on campus until the day they graduate. Our kids are well prepared to take the next step each year of their development.
TEXASHSFOOTBALL.COM: Over the years, we’ve been seeing more and more run-pass options (plays where the OL blocks like it’s a run play, but WRs run routes, and the QB has the option of handing it off or throwing it) at every level of football. How has the advent of the run-pass option changed the game?
COACH ABSECK: It’s similar to how the wishbone changed the way the game was played when it first came on the scene. It is just a variation of the option and it has definitely had an effect on defenses and how they play based on their opponents scheme. The defense has to be really good with alignment, their eyes and in mixing coverage.
TEXASHSFOOTBALL.COM: There’s been some news made the offseason about referee shortages around the state. What would you say to someone thinking about getting into officiating, and how do you feel about the job the Texas Association of Sports Officials does at providing y’all with top-notch officials for Friday nights?
COACH ABSECK: I think that the Austin Chapter of Officials that we use in our district is top notch and does a great job of teaching officials and doing a very difficult job each week. Our quality of games is dependent on having great officiating week in and week out and so it is important. As far as recruiting new officials, I would say that it is a great way of being involved in the game of football, make a little extra cash, and you have the best seat in the house to watch quality football.
TEXASHSFOOTBALL.COM: Which college and pro teams do you root for on Saturdays and Sundays?
COACH ABSECK: I am probably first a Longhorn fan, but root for all Texas schools to be successful, and I am a diehard Cowboy fan from birth. It has been hard for a little while but I am sticking with them.
TEXASHSFOOTBALL.COM: It’s no secret that high school football takes on a bigger meaning in the great state of Texas. What does it mean to you to be a high school football coach in Texas, a place where the ‘Friday Night Lights’ seem to shine a little brighter?
COACH ABSECK: It is a great honor to be a high school football coach in Texas. I have been blessed to work for 3 great head coaches, one of which is in the Texas High School Hall of Honor and many great assistant coaches. This will be my 21st year and I couldn’t be more proud to tell people what I do and where I do it. Cedar Park is a great community with great kids, and I am really blessed to be here. The impact that we can have on kids is something we take very seriously and I can’t think of a better profession or state in which to be a football coach.
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