Familiar faces in new roles lead the KoMets
This wasn’t the way they drew it up, but the Kasson-Mantorville football team seemingly hasn’t missed a beat despite two team members suddenly taking over two of the most important positions on their team.
With Head Coach Broc Threinen placed on administrative leave and Quarterback Matt Donovan suffering a collarbone injury, Joel Swanson and Peyton Wilke are thriving in their new roles as the interim head coach and starting quarterback, respectively.
Swanson said Wilke has taken the quarterback job and ran with it.
“He’s accepted the challenge, he’s gotten way better, and I look forward to seeing how he continues to progress as the season continues on,” he said.
Meanwhile, he thinks one of the keys to his new role as head coach is trusting his offensive coaches.
“I have all the confidence in our offensive coaches. I haven’t had my finger in there and I’m still not putting too many fingers in the pot; that could make for a messy situation,” he said. “I believe in them just like on defense I believe in my assistants, I believe in giving them responsibility otherwise they’re like puppets and I don’t want something like that. There’s a reason they’re coaching. Even when I was controlling the defense I was really focused on the defensive line and then everybody else coached the other pieces. That’s how I believe it should be done.”
That trust seems to have paid off as KoMets’ offense, which scored just seven points in its week one loss, has scored a combined 108 points against John Marshall, Austin and Winona.
A lot of their offensive momentum, Swanson said, is a credit to his offensive staff giving Wilke the confidence to succeed.
“A lot of it is confidence. I think the offensive coaches really did a good job of concentrating on his strengths and trying to play to those so he could gain more confidence,” he said.
While the offense and defense are cruising now, he understands that Wilke and other players will make mistakes.
“Anyone can be up when good things are happening, when bad things are happening you really get to see what you’re made of,” Swanson said.
Regardless of whether good things or bad things are happening, Wilke views each week as a learning experience.
“Just keep getting better and learn from each week whether it’s a win or loss,” he said.
Another way to learn is by watching someone else do the job and Wilke mentioned that backing up Matt Winkle last year helped him be ready for this opportunity.
“I learned a lot because he was a four-year starter. He knew what he was doing,” he said. “His footwork was crazy good so when he was getting rushed, I was focusing on watching him.”
Another aspect of being the starting quarterback that Wilke has tried to improve is his leadership.
“I’ve been working on stepping up as a leader and being the leader this team needs,” he said.
He explained that whether it’s in the weight room, practice, or on the field, he tries to “set a great example by giving everything my 100%.”
Swanson noted that Wilke was a leader even before he took over as quarterback.
“I think he’s always been a leader, he’s not been a vocal type of leader, he’s a leader who does it by example. In the weight room, he’s always there working as hard as he can and pushing others to work hard,” he said. “I always go back to a saying, ‘A leader knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way’ and to me he does all three of those things.’”
While Swanson gives Wilke credit for always being in the weight room, Wilke said it was a team effort.
“The whole team was working hard in the weight room, it was awesome. All winter and into the summer, we were working really hard and I think it’s paid off,” he said.
In addition to working hard, Swanson also wants his team to work smarter.
“We don’t know what the opponent is going to do to stop our offense. We have to be able to identify it and then find another way to attack it. We have to figure out what their strengths are and what they’re trying to do so we can counteract,” he said. “Hopefully, we’re the aggressive one and then they have to make the changes then you really got things happening.”
Wilke hopes his team is the aggressive one when they host Byron this Friday.
“I think we’re really excited for the Byron game,” he said. “That’s always a big game for us. We love whooping on those guys.”