Christiansburg High School has a new head football coach, and he is a familiar face to people in the eastern part of Montgomery County and those in the Three Rivers District.
For the past nine years, Alex Wilkins has served as an assistant coach at Glenvar. The 31-year-old first time head coach is looking forward to his new position at Christiansburg High School. He replaces Tim Cromer who resigned this fall after two straight losing seasons.
“I am excited about the opportunity to lead the Blue Demon football program and continue the tradition of excellence,” said Wilkens. “I look forward to working with the students in the same community I live in and admire the way the community supports Blue Demon football. I am very excited about the prospects of this program. My experiences playing for, and coaching with, some tremendous head coaches, coupled with the culture already instilled in the student athletes of CHS by coach Cromer makes the future very promising.”
He has served as the defensive coordinator and handled special teams and passing game duties at Glenvar, and is a Floyd County High School graduate, completing his bachelor’s degree in biology from Bridgewater College and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Radford University.
Wilkins has also been an integral part of their offseason strength and conditioning program for Glenvar, who have been a perineal playoff team for the past five years including one state championship.
The Montgomery County School Board approved his appointment to CHS at its meeting Tuesday night.
“The familiarity with the administration, familiarity with the community, living locally, means that I could fulfill my current teaching responsibilities and still be able to work with the kids after school in the weight room this winter and spring. Knowing that the program itself had been run the right way by Coach Cromer in the past was a big motivating factor for me,” Wilkins said.
The new coach has spoken with the outgoing Cromer and hopes to continue many of the same things that he did to be successful at CHS and bring some of my energy and experiences from coaching at Glenvar and playing in college.
“But, I think more than anything, it has to be my knowledge of developing athletes in the weight room. It is a passion of mine, and I’m excited about some of the changes coming to CHS in terms of the weight room facilities. The kids have a lot to be excited about,” he said.
The school is looking at expanding the weight equipment and facilities to almost double its current size over the next few months.
Wilkins cites his experience at Glenvar as being invaluable. That coaching staff, according to Wilkins, is most proud of the role they played in changing the culture of Glenvar football.
“When Kevin Clifford came in, the culture was not conducive to consistent success on the football field. Our staff changed that culture to where our kids believe and expect to be successful and we had a recipe to make that happen and when the kids bought-in, the success followed suit,” he said.
Changing certain aspects of the program is something he will have to tackle very quickly at CHS.
“I hope to keep the family atmosphere and the culture of integrity, class, and have an emphasis in building young adults. That is already there. But I want to put my own stamp on the program as well. Long-term, I want to build a championship culture there and to regularly compete for the River Ridge title, in my opinion the best district in the state of Virginia. If we can do that, I think we will be able to play with anybody in the state of Virginia,” he said.
On the short term, Wilkins hopes to formulate a staff, get to know and develop trust with the kids, and find out what personnel he has and then build the scheme based off of that.
“In high school football, your personnel changes so often. So, I believe you have to be able to adapt your scheme to your athletes. But you will see an emphasis on playing good defense and special teams. I have always been a fan of an even front on defense (4-4, 4-3, 4-2-5) and have the most experience coaching that,” he said.
Offensively, the Wing T influence, according to Wilkins, will still be a big part of the CHS offense, but what will be seen formation-wise depends on the personnel.
“You can expect to see balance on offense with a focus on being physical, running the football and a solid play-action passing game,” he said.
That could also include some influence from his time at Glenvar, including a very physical and hard-hitting defense that he led while there.
“I should certainly hope so, it will be an emphasis for us. Our defense at Glenvar was something we took pride in and the kids bought into the principals the staff taught them. Ultimately, the coaches never stepped on the field. It was a mindset that our kids had that made our defense there special. I’ve always believed that playing good defense has less to do with talent than other aspects of football, and more to do with playing with an attitude and hustle; those two things don’t take any talent,” he added.
He hopes to start assembling a staff very soon.
“The sooner the better,” he said. “I will be looking for good people to surround our kids with first and foremost. I want to have coaches that are enthusiastic, love kids, love football and are passionate about the impact we can have in this role. Football knowledge, along with those attributes, is nice but not necessarily a prerequisite.”
Wilkins met with players at the high school Wednesday morning.