Royal Return: Echeverria to be Eastern Hancock head football coach for second time

0
2352

Pat Echeverria coached the Eastern Hancock football team for three seasons and guided the program to its first semistate title since 1985. After stops at Zionsville and Pike, he is returning to coach the Royals.

Tom Russo | The Daily Reporter

CHARLOTTESVILLE — Pat Echeverria is coming back to where it all started, where he had his greatest success.

Earlier this week, Eastern Hancock announced Echeverria, who coached the school’s football team from 2011-13, would return as its head coach.

He replaces Phil Morris whose contract was not renewed after this past season. The Royals were 5-5 in 2021, Morris’s lone season as the program’s head coach.

“It’s one of my favorite places I’ve coached during my time,” Echeverria said. “The community is great. The kids are great. The administration, the staff (are great). It’s kind of a tight-knit community and to me that’s what high school sports are all about. On a Friday night, most of the people that live in the district, whether they have a kid or not, probably end up at a few games during the year.”

Echeverria started his head coaching career, now in its 12th season, at Eastern Hancock.

In his third season at EH, he led the Royals to the 2013 Class A state championship game. Eastern went 14-1 and won sectional, regional and semistate titles.

After mentoring the Royals, Echeverria left to become head coach at Zionsville. In five seasons with the Eagles, Echeverria’s teams went 27-31 and won consecutive 5A sectional championships from 2015-17.

From 2019-21 he coached at his alma mater, Pike High School. He stepped down from his coaching position after this past season. In his three seasons at Pike, the Red Devils went 5-25.

“Not the success from a wins and losses standpoint that I hoped for at my alma mater,” Echeverria said. “When I was an assistant there we went to a state championship game in 2007. There wasn’t one thing that made me decide to pack up and move on. It was a lot of things adding up that was saying it was time for me to go. Not one of them was the kids. I love those kids and I would do anything for them.

“It felt like the right time. When I had a great conversation with (Eastern Hancock Athletic Director) Aaron Spaulding it seemed like it was the right time to head on back to the roots.”

Overall, Echeverria is 55-70 as a head coach. He was 23-14 in his three seasons at Eastern Hancock.

“Our experience with Pat the first time around was great,” Spaulding said. “He was great with the kids, the staff. We got better each year he was here and that culminated in us being state runners-up.

“I know he really enjoyed his time here. He got a taste of the big schools, but I know he really enjoyed the small school and I think he wanted to come back to that.”

Prior to his first stint at EH, Echeverria was an assistant at Cascade, Perry Meridian and Pike.

After going 3-7 in his initial season with the Royals, Echeverria’s team went 6-6 in 2012. The Royals reached the sectional championship game, losing 35-19 to eventual state runner-up Indianapolis Scecina. The 19 points were the most scored against the Crusaders during the 2012 postseason.

In 2013, Eastern Hancock won its first 14 games. The Royals scored 50 or more points 10 times, including a stretch of nine straight games. On three occasions the Royals scored over 70, with a season-high 78 in a 78-27 win over Union City in the sectional opener. There were three shutout victories.

“The thing I know about the (Eastern Hancock) community is they love football,” Echeverria said. “Our first workout on Tuesday morning at 6:30 a.m., we had 42 players show up on time ready to work. That’s 22 percent of the male population. The kids love football and the community loves football. I feel like I can provide some structure and direction that can hopefully make us successful on and off the field.”

Echeverria said former Eastern Hancock assistant coach Michael Galyan will return to the program as its offensive coordinator. Ethan Robbins, who coached with Echeverria at Pike and played at Noblesville, will be the team’s defensive coordinator.

Galyan played for Echeverria at Cascade.

Spaulding added the opening at Eastern Hancock and Echeverria leaving Pike, proved to be good timing for the Royals.

“That conference (that Pike is in), you can easily have a Top 20 team and not win two games in the MIC (Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference),” Spaulding said. “You’re playing a Top 10 caliber team every week. That’s kind of a grinder and it can be very exhausting. It’s very difficult.

“He was in that position where he was maybe looking for something else and we ended up with an opening. Everything kind of fell into place where he was able to come back.”

Echeverria will finish out the school year at Pike. He will be a physical education teacher at Eastern Hancock next school year.

Pat Echeverria’s head coaching record

Season;School;W-L record

2011;Eastern Hancock;3-7

2012;Eastern Hancock;6-6

2013;Eastern Hancock;14-1

2014;Zionsville;3-7

2015;Zionsville;5-7

2016;Zionsville;6-6

2017;Zionsville;7-6

2018;Zionsville;6-5

2019;Pike;1-9

2020;Pike;3-7

2021;Pike;1-9

11 seasons;55-70

Echeverria won sectional, regional and semistate titles at Eastern Hancock in 2013. He won sectional championships at Zionsville in 2015, 2016, 2017.