Dan Gustafson: Congratulations on your win over Apple Valley. That had to be a big win for you. What did your team take away from that win?
Brad Anderson: I think whenever you get a win over a quality opponent it boosts your confidence. For us, I just thought our defense played really really well to start with. We were banged up and had some guys play some different positions that what that normally play, but they adapted well to what they had to play in terms of what Coach Lombardi had them do. Basically, other than one play, we didn’t give Apple Valley very much the whole night. Offensively I thought we had opportunities to score and we took advantage of that. They were a very good, physical defense, and I thought while we didn’t execute 100% perfect, I thought we were very physical upfront.
DG: So you were please with all those areas. Anything else you were pleased with?
BA: The big thing is, they had a big play, we were up 16-0 and they made a big pass play, got back into it. We had a turnover on our next possession and that helped them a little bit and they pulled to within 2, 16-14. The thing I was most pleased about is that we didn’t panic, we didn’t lose our composure and continued to play hard at that point. Obviously, the two big plays right before half, the long pass to Cecil [Doe] and the fourth down play really gave us momentum going into half time. The fact that we didn’t get rattled when they came back on us was a positive thing I thought.
DG: Any areas you thought needed improvement outside of those two plays, the punt return and the 60 yard strike?
BA: Defensively, you just can’t ask for much more than what we did. I know we can always get better, perform a little bit better, we know that. You can’t really pick apart a game like that and be dissatisfied. Offensively, the fact that we fumbled the ball again, and before the punt return for the touchdown we gave up, we took a penalty on a third and medium situation where we had the first down but it got called back because of a penalty putting us in a tougher situation. We had to punt out of our zone and maybe would not have had to if we did not get that penalty. Not getting penalties in the key points of the game and not fumbling the ball, that is the two areas we are still working on.
DG: Would you talk about some of your key players and plays in that game.
BA: To me the first key play was the long catch by Cecil [Doe] in the first half. I thought it was a pretty even first half, but getting him down the field deep, one on one was huge. I know there was some discussion, did the ball hit the ground or not, we couldn’t tell. Those are the types of plays, if your receivers in the area and makes the effort, we can make big plays. The second one, I would say is in the second half. They were trying to get something going, and we really finished the game off with interception by Jack Egan. I thought that was huge because not only did he pick the ball off, he returned it for a touchdown and that really ended any hopes they had of coming back. I thought both those plays were huge.
DG: What did you think of Garret Englehardt’s performance?
BA: We see that in practice every week, he does a great job… and out of the 3 backs he does a great job, we are very fortunate to have those three backs. Like we talk about in practice all the time, you never know when the opportunity is going to be there for you to make the big plays, you gotta be ready and when they do come you gotta make them. I thought Garret did that for us with the three scores and the fact that he ran the ball hard. That’s what he has being doing all year, that was his night to make the big plays.
DG: It does seem like you have a number of weapons on offense and that you can spread that ball around. You have been saying that previously, but that was the – I really saw that as I watched the game last Friday that you have more than one player that can…
BA: We really feel that we have 5 or 6 receivers that can make big plays. Sometimes that is a problem because you don’t know which when you want to go to. (laughing) What I tell the players is that when we design the pass routes so that they are really all primary receivers and it is just a matter of what the defense is going to do to defend us. They all have to be ready for the ball. Likewise, when we are running the ball, we have 3 really good running backs right now who are playing well. They know over the course of the season, it’s a physical game, and you take some hits, and some weeks one of them might be dinged up and not able to go as much. By having 5 running backs, by having 3 receivers, the tight end, the quarterback who can distribute the ball, it really opens up the play book for me as the offensive coordinator.
DG: Those running backs being, and correct me if I am wrong: Chris Kroeten is 1…
BA: Chris Kroeten is one, second one is Garrett Englehardt, obviously, and Kevin Knight comes in for us.
DG: How do you think John Ries and Matt Tarpley did?
BA: We were going to play Matt a couple of series, but Matt, when I went to him, he was real comfortable playing the slot receiver and chose to play there on the third series of each half. I thought they both played really well. The thing they have now is that John and Matt understand the team from a quarterback’s perspective, so even when Matt is playing slot receiver, John can look at him, look at the coverage, and know that Matt is thinking the same thing. We have been able to audible a couple of times, the last couple of weeks, make big plays, the big completions because they both understand the quarterback’s perspective. That allows us to not worry what the defense is play as far as coverage.
DG: Remind us Coach, who was the linebacker that was dinged up last week and played anyway?
BA: Grant Olson, missed most of the week of practice, and played. Once he got warmed up and got over the pain he was feeling he had a injury that a lot of guys would have sat out the game, but he played through it.
DG: What do you know about Minneapolis North? What have you seen on film? What have you seen on paper?
BA: The first thing I know about Minneapolis north is that they have very good athletes, they play fast. They don’t have the depth that the typical programs we play, they are thinner, they don’t have as many players, as we do. That’s a big problem for them because a lot of their kids are going to have to play both ways. The other thing about that is that over the course of a season you tend to wear down because injuries are a part of the game. For them, they probably haven’t experienced a lot of injuries yet, but over the course of a season it can be an issue.
DG: How many players do they have?
BA: I haven’t looked at the roster, some of that depends on who they are playing up with the varsity. They are considerably smaller than we are as far as numbers, and that is a factor for their team over the course of a game.
DG: Where have they had success?
BA: They are very good a getting the ball out in space, they run a spread offense, so defensively, you have to be disciplined, what your responsibility is and not try to do someone else’s job. Defensively, they attack, they get up in your face on the wide receivers, they are going to make you complete passes down the field.
DG: How many times have you played Minneapolis North?
BA: This is the second time, we played them last year at their place. Now they are coming out to ours this year. It was a good experience for our kids last year, we hope good one for their players this year coming out to our place.
DG: How is your team doing injury wise?
BA: Your typical nicks and bruises that happen during the course of the season. We have a couple of kids that are not 100%. Some of the kids who were maybe injured early in the year, we are starting to get back–that’s kind of the course of a season. I don’t think that we have lose anyone with a season ending injury, it’s been typically out for a few games. Jerry Bao, who got injured in the first week of the season, he’s now starting practice, whether or not he plays this week, I’m not sure on that. We are starting to get some of those players back.
DG: What ever possessed you to allow the Star Tribune writer John Millea into your booth to listen to your play calling, etc. and then publish that information in the Star Tribune?
BA: I’ve know John for a couple of years. He has covered high school football, and I got to know him a little bit as a person. I have a lot of trust in him that he will use discretion with what he shares, I guess that’s the number one thing. He came to me and asked me what we thought of him doing an article like this, and I thought about it, and I said, you know, it might be interesting for people to see what happens behind the scenes. The number one reason I allowed it to happen was my trust in John.
DG: What kind of reaction did people have? What kind of feedback have you gotten?
BA: The main thing is, most people have been positive. Some people, who don’t know a lot about high schools football, were surprised at the complexity of what we are asking the kids to do. I think those were the two big comments I heard back.
Wayzata Football 2008 continues when the Trojans take on the Minneapolis North Polars at 7:00 at the Wayzata High School, Friday, September 26th. My prediction, watch for Wayzata to win big over Minneapolis North. They reportedly have only 30 players on their varsity team, and many of them have to play both sides of the ball.
Stay tuned to Wayzata.com, your Wayzata Trojan Football team reamins unbeaten leader.