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Lions determined for playoffs

Coach talks about game plan in Q&A

The Bishop Ryan Lions football team has a remarkable record of 7-2, and head football coach Roger Coleman is looking forward to the playoffs with a positive attitude.

For its regular season, the Lions had an average margin of victory of 34 points. For its two losses over the season, the combined margin of defeat was only six points. They lost by a very small amount, so hope was never lost.

This is what Coleman had to say about the regular season and the upcoming playoffs.

MDN: What are your expectations heading into the playoffs?

Coleman: Our expectations are to compete at a high level starting with our first game Saturday. Our long-term playoff goal is to get back to the state championship and win it this year. Getting to the game last year and coming up short has fueled our energy this season and I think it will continue to drive us during the playoffs. The competition in the playoffs is tougher than the regular season so we need to execute well, limit our mistakes as well as our opponents’ big plays to be successful and achieve our goals.

MDN: Who are the top players on your team, and could you assess their overall performances?

Coleman: We have relied on our skill guys to get us going this year. Jaxon Feller at running back, Logan Merck, Bryson Elm and Zach Henrickson at wide receiver and Nick Sanders running the offense at quarterback. We have been a more balanced attacking team on the offensive side of the ball this year with so many explosive weapons. Our offensive line was a big question coming in as Cutter Kent is our only returner and senior up front, but they have played above expectation as a unit on the line this year. We hope that will continue throughout our playoff run.

MDN: Aside from those standout players, who are some of the other boys that also made their presence known throughout the season?

Coleman: One of the biggest players to step up outside of these players is tight end and outside linebacker Josh Will. He ranks at the top of our team in tackles, sacks and tackles for loss (TFLs). We rely on him to dominate his side of the line of scrimmage and he has done a great job of getting that done. On offense, we expect a lot out of him at the tight end position as well. He is asked to block, run routes, catch ball and get involved in many of our gadget plays. He is one of the smartest players on the field which allows him to fill all these roles for his position.

Another player that has stuck out is Jacob Fricke. He has played with great intensity and brought a physical presence to the team on both sides of the line.

MDN: Given this new era of social distancing, what kind of impact did that have on the actual competition?

Coleman: I don’t think it has had a large affect on the actual competition side of things.

MDN: Looking ahead to the next stage in competition, can you describe the overall direction of the program and where things are headed?

Coleman: Looking ahead to the playoffs, we are confident in our abilities, but we also know we have to play our best football to be successful.

As a player the main job is to look at the immediate next task at hand, but as a coach, we are always looking down the road, too, and I think the future of the program looks very promising. We will have a great group returning next season regardless of how this one turns out and also have a large, talented freshman class coming in next year.

MDN: How many seasons have you been the head coach in the Magic City, and what is the most rewarding aspect of your job?

Coleman: This is my 4th season at Bishop Ryan. The most rewarding aspect is easily building the relationships with our players. Being at a small school is extremely unique because I have very close relationships with the majority of my players. There are many days where I can sit and have breakfast or lunch with our players, they can stop in my office anytime to talk about football, school, life, or personal interests that we share. Their families have hosted many team meals over the years, so the connections expand past just the players, but to the families as well.

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