Success follows Huse to football field

Published 5:07 pm Saturday, November 21, 2009

An 8-2 season, a conference championship and a No. 1 seed in the section playoffs isn’t bad for a first-year head coach.

United South Central football head coach Brad Huse came on this season and helped guide the Rebels to their first winning season since 2002 and their first conference title since 2001. His work to turnaround a 2-7 team from a year ago makes him the 2009 Albert Lea Tribune All-area football coach of the year.

Huse is not a stranger to receiving coach of the year honors, he’s won the Albert Lea Tribune All-area softball coach of the year honors five times, including the past three.

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Huse stepped in this season after last year’s head coach Brent Schimek lost his position as activities director with the school because of budget cuts. It wasn’t known until later in the summer if Schimek would return to coach the football team. When it was clear he wasn’t going to return, Huse, an assistant coach for the past 10 seasons, accepted the head coaching position.

Huse inherited a team with 15 seniors — many of whom were two-year starters — and a team that desired success after six consecutive losing seasons, including a winless season in 2006.

“It was a long time coming,” Huse said of the 2009 season. “We had the nucleus there. Last year we didn’t have that. Last year we didn’t have the kids with the confidence that they could take the guy across from them. This year we did. It’s a lot to do with the athletes you have.”

The Rebels fielded an athletic team and strong offensive and defensive lines, which were able to control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.

“It all starts on the line,” said assistant head coach Pat Frank. “It’s the offensive and defensive line and if you have good kids on each side you’re going to have success.”

Seven seniors started on offense, including four on the line, while nine seniors started on defense.

“You’ve got that little sense of urgency,” said Huse about the senior-laden team. “When you’ve got that attitude it helps tremendously.”

Huse is pretty mild-mannered on and off the football field and he finds a way to get results without fiery speeches or raising his voice often.

“I think he really relates to the student athletes,” said assistant coach Pierre Stencel. “He allows them to be themselves. He allows a little bit of freedom of expression. He respects them and it’s kind of a two-way street. He’ll let them know when they’ll need to be reprimanded.”

The success of the football team was not only uplifting for the players, but also got the students and the town as it got excited about football again. It’s the kind of excitement that could lead to more interest in the program from younger players.

“I think the things that happened in Wells this past year have really jump started the football program,” Frank said.

Led by three-year starting quarterback Riley Swearingen, the team gained confidence with every week, beginning with a 34-21 victory over Blue Earth to open the season. The team intercepted five passes and went on to win the rest of its regular season contests at home.

The leadership of captain A.J. Dreyer was an important piece as he led the offensive and defensive lines while the play of linebackers Jordan Beyer and Taylor Ovrebo made the team stronger. The Rebels were committed to being a team this season on both sides of the ball.

“Everyone of them helped us out,” Huse said.