New coach bringing humor, hard work

New coach bringing humor, hard work

Joe Brennan tries to make laughter a part of every practice.

The second week of practice, for example, Brennan had all of the Kimball players who want a chance to kick gather.

A group of eight players gathered and then Brennan and assistant coach Jason Mortenson stood on either side of the kickers as they attempted a field goal.

The deal was that the number of misses would equal the number of sprints the Cubs had to do and Brennan and Mortenson tried to say something funny to each competitor as they were kicking.

“I’m really glad he came here,” senior Tyler Smith said of Brennan, who was hired last spring. “It’s pretty upbeat. Practices are always fun and we’re enjoying ourselves the whole time.”

This is Brennan’s first season as a head coach after coaching stops at St. Cloud Apollo, Big Lake, Dassel-Cokato and Kennedy Community School.

“You’ve got to have a work mentality, but it’s got to be kind of a light, focused atmosphere,” said Brennan, a fifth-grade teacher. “When we’re at work, we work. When we have a little break, we inject a little humor to keep them there and buy into it.”

Kimball has 37 players out for football in grades 9-12, but Brennan got about 25 of them to buy into attending a team strength and speed camp three times a week during the summer.

“You can definitely tell who went to the summer camp and who didn’t,” senior fulback/middle linebacker Troy Filzen said. “The people who did are way better conditioned. They’re ready to go and know the schemes.”

The summer time together gave the Cubs a chance to implement a new offense and defense.

“Our offense is based on the pass,” junior slot back Brady Mehr said. “We always have four receivers, but we will do some pro power sets.”

Kimball will go with a base defensive scheme that has five defensive linemen and three linebackers.

“They made their schemes for how we are,” Filzen said of the coaching staff. “We don’t try to do something that we’re not.”

What the Cubs do not want to do is repeat last season. Kimball was 0-7 in the Central Minnesota Conference and 0-9 overall after finishing 5-5 in 2012.

“Anything can be better than last year,” senior tight end/defensive end Jarred Merchant said. “We’re trying to get this program back on the right track.”

Brennan has liked what he has seen in the preseason.

“I’ve been preaching ‘attack the day.’ We’re going to go out and work hard and get better each day,” he said. “We want to improve off last year and I think we’re on the right path with the effort they’re putting in.

“All the extra things they’ve been putting in are going to help them.”