After being named as the new Macomb High School Head Football Coach, Tony Westen has hit the ground running. As Westen continues his current duties as an assistant coach on the MHS Baseball Team, he has looked ahead to planning for training camp, and ultimately putting together his Macomb Football program.
I got a chance to catch up with Coach Westen at MHS. We touched on a variety of subjects, including his coaching philosophies, his hometown roots, and his ideas for developing a culture around Macomb High Football that will lead to success on and off the field. Listen to our conversation below.
0:00-1:28 Reaction to Getting the Job
1:28-2:37 Kelly Sears' Advice Following the Hire
2:37-5:34 Westen's Roots in Macomb
5:34-7:45 Weston's Coaching Philosophy
7:45-9:55 How to Bring in and Promote Energy
9:55-11:55 Wanting Multi-Sport Athletes
11:55-14:13 Addressing Low Number of Players on West Central Illinois Football Teams
0:00-2:02 Conference Realignment
2:02-3:57 Adapting to Playing Bigger Schools
3:57-5:51 Plans for Training Camp
5:51-7:29 Developing the Macomb Football Program as a Whole
The Western Illinois Softball Team defeated South Dakota in two out of three games over the weekend. The wins move the Leathernecks to 11-20 on the season. Western snapped a six game losing skid in the process of this, while also starting off home and league play with a 2-1 record.
Saturday 3/25: WIU 9 SD 4
On a windy day in Macomb the Leathernecks were elevating the ball very nicely in the first game of a doubleheader. Western Illinois compiled six extra base hits in the game, including three home runs. The bats were connecting early, as WIU scored runs in each of the first three innings. A five-run seventh innings brought the Leatherneck lead to 7-0. Emily Ira hit a solo shot in the second inning, while Holly Hoelting and Taylor Messer crushed two and three run jacks in the third.
Ira, the ace of the WIU pitching staff, tossed four scoreless innings before allowing runs in the fifth and sixth innings. She moves to 5-10 on the season after the complete game.
Saturday 3/25: SD 15 WIU 5
The Coyote bats were lethal during the backend of the doubleheader. While Western managed to strike first, scoring four runs on three more homers in the bottom of the first inning, South Dakota controlled the remainder of the game. The Coyotes scored six runs in the top of the second inning to take a lead they would not come close to letting slip.
South Dakota had nearly double the amount of hits in this game, recording fifteen of them. Western had eight hits. The game was 10-4 after five innings, but a five run 7th inning for South Dakota particularly put the game out of reach for the Leathernecks.
Sunday 3/26: WIU 9 SD 8
The Leathernecks closed out the series by winning the rubber match. Western found itself behind early, with South Dakota up 6-0 after two innings. Western scored three runs in the 5th inning, but allowed another in each of the 6th and 7th innings. With the score 8-3 South Dakota heading into the bottom half of the final frame, Western managed to pull it together.
Despite the fact that WIU clubbed nine homers over the weekend, only one of those came in the final inning. A small-ball approach allowed the Leathernecks to slowly churn out some runs. Six singles a home run and a walk ultimately brought in the six runs needed to win in walk off fashion. Pinch hitter Sydney Hollings was the batter that hit the game winning single, knocking in shortstop Payton Abbott.
The Leathernecks play again Saturday (doubleheader) and Sunday, facing Omaha on the road in a Summit League matchup.
The WIU Baseball team moved to 5-16 after the weekend, following a 1-3 showing vs North Dakota State. The Leathernecks dropped the initial game Friday, bounced back with a victory Saturday, but could not secure the win in the rubber match Sunday.
Friday 3/24: NDSU 7 WIU 5
Western Illinois got off to a rocky start Friday, falling into an early 3-0 hole. The Leathernecks responded though. NDSU held a 4-2 lead after 7 innings, but Western tied the game up and took a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the 8th inning. Shortstop Deion Thompson tied the game up with a 2-run blast, his second homer of the afternoon. Steve McShane came up clutch with an ensuing pinch hit single to swing the game back in the Leathernecks' favor.
WIU could not close it out though. A walk and a double for the Bison put runners on second and third with no outs. A ground out to short tied the game at 5. Western recorded another out, but with two outs NDSU left fielder Logan Busch smacked a 2-run dinger to give North Dakota State a 7-5 lead. Western began the bottom of the 9th with a Conner Currier double, but could not muster up anything else, falling by a final score of 7-5.
Saturday 3/25: WIU 5 NDSU 1
The Leathernecks tacked an early run on, as outfielder Cord Church scored on a 1st inning balk. Western brought across 3 runs in the third inning, using a 2 run double from senior catcher Adam McGinnis and a sacrifice fly from Johnathan Fleek to make the score 4-0. A Fleek RBI single in the fifth made it 5-0.
Aside from allowing one solo home run for NDSU in the 8th, WIU senior pitcher Preston Church went unscathed in this one. The southpaw was stellar on the hill, holding the Bison to 2 hits in 8 innings of work, en route to the Western win.
Sunday 3/26: NDSU 1 WIU 0
The Sunday rubber match went right down to the wire between the Summit League foes. Coming off his first career win, freshman pitcher Javin Drake tossed 6 scoreless innings for WIU. He allowed 4 hits, 3 walks, and struck out 5 batters in that stretch.
Both teams had their chances throughout the game. Most notably, Western had runners on second and third in the bottom of the 7th following a Chris Tschida one-out double and a Conner Currier walk. The Leathernecks could not bring around either of those runners though, as a Mitch Ellis liner nearly cleared the second-baseman's glove.
Relief pitcher Nate Westfahl got out of a two out jam in the 7th, but ultimately gave up the game winning run in the 9th. This came on a one-out RBI single. The Leathernecks could not bring across anybody in the bottom of the last, losing the game 1-0.
This stretch marked games 5-7 of an 8 game homestand. That stretch concludes Wednesday, with Western Illinois hosting in-state foe Bradley.
After a rainout Thursday vs Quincy High, the MHS Softball Team pulled out a big win in their home opener Friday vs South Fulton Co-Op. The Bombers earned a 14-4 victory over the Rebels, moving to 2-4 on the young season. Macomb will face Jacksonville on the road this afternoon.
The 2-2 Macomb Bombers were scheduled to play in the Galesburg Early Tournament Friday and Saturday. The event was postponed due to rain. The Bombers next game is at home tomorrow vs Monmouth-Roseville.
A number of high school sporting events in the Macomb area have been postponed this afternoon due to rain. We'll keep updating the list as we get more information in. The following events have been canceled today.
Bushnell-West Prairie Baseball vs Monmouth-Roseville
Freshman Baseball vs Quincy High
Sophomore & Varsity Softball vs Quincy High
Girls Varsity Soccer vs Peoria High
Girls Track vs South Fulton
Softball vs Camp Point
Girls Track at Rushville-Industry
WIU Baseball (4-14)
On Wednesday the Western Illinois Baseball team notched a 9-0 win over St. Ambrose. The Leathernecks improved to 4-14 following the victory in game 4 of an 8 game home stand.
Western capitalized on small-ball tactics in this one. The team scored their 9 runs on 7 hits and 11 walks. Only one extra base hit was recorded by the Leathernecks, a double from outfielder Roman Visintine. Additionally, WIU displayed aggression on the base paths, stealing 4 bases. The team also took advantage of three errors committed on the St. Ambrose side.
Sophomore pitcher Jimmy Perkins was on the hill for the Leathernecks, allowing only 1 hit in 6 innings of work. This was Perkins’ first start of the year. Freshman Connor Rektorski earned his first career save, taking care of business in the final 3 innings for Western Illinois.
The Leathernecks open up a 3 game series with North Dakota State on Friday afternoon at Alfred Boyer Stadium.
Macomb Baseball (2-2)
Macomb High Baseball fell 14-3 to Alleman Catholic High on the road yesterday. The Bombers record drops to 2-2 on the year with the loss.
The Pioneers jumped out in front early an often, scoring 4 runs in the 1st inning. Macomb answered back with 1 run in the top of the 2nd, but in the bottom half of the frame Alleman brought 2 more runs across.
Macomb chipped into the deficit with a run in the top of the 3rd as well, but a 6 run inning for Alleman put the score out of reach at 12-2. After the top of the 5th with the score at 14-3, the IHSA’s mercy rule was enacted, given that the Pioneers led by over 10 runs after 5 innings.
The Bombers are up in Galesburg Friday and Saturday for the Galesburg Early Tournament.
Macomb Softball (1-4)
Macomb High Softball fell 10-0 to Alleman in 5 innings on the road Wednesday. The team’s record falls to 1-4 after the defeat.
The Pioneers knocked in 2 runs in the bottom of the 1st to take a 2-0 lead. The floodgates opened in the 2nd inning in this one, with the Bombers allowing 6 more Alleman runs to cross the plate. Macomb was down 9-0 heading into the bottom of the 5th, but gave up an RBI double to make the score 10-0, ending the game in mercy rule fashion.
The team holds its home opener today vs Quincy High, followed by another home contest tomorrow against South Fulton Co-Op.
(Photo by The McDonough County Voice)
Macomb High School has officially named Tony Westen as the new Head Football Coach. Westen, who has served as an assistant coach on Kelly Sears’ staff for several years, takes over following Sears’ resignation after a 21 year run at the helm of the Bombers program.
Westen has head coaching experience with the Macomb High Wrestling Team, as well as additional assistant coaching mileage with the Bombers Baseball Team. He works for the West Central Illinois Special Education Co-Op, meaning he will be on-site at MHS throughout the day as well.
At his opening press conference, Westen touched on energy being something he’ll expect his players to bring to the field on Friday nights.
"Energy, fun, we're going to do some things where we're flying around,” Westen said (via the McDonough Voice). "We're going to try to get the crowd to their feet, try to utilize the athleticism that is in our building.”
The new head coach will have the task of taking over a team that finished 2-7 last season, but will bring back many of its starters.