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Posted by Guest (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/14/2012 6:06:58 PM

By Brian Jerzak
John’s Journal correspondent

Times have been tough for the Bloomington Jefferson football program. After an opening-round playoff win in 2009, the Jaguars have won just one game in nearly three years. After a long stint as a Jaguars player and then as an assistant coach, first-year head coach Tim Carlson was hired to try to get the program back on track.

Carlson knows the rebuilding process will not happen overnight. This season has not gone the way he has wanted and neither did Friday night. The Jaguars traveled to South Suburban Conference rival Rosemount and fell 33-7.

“(Rebuilding) starts in our youth levels,” said Carlson. “I give a lot of credit to our seniors. They are connected to our youth level teams. We call it the Bloomington Athletic Association. We have kids tied up with seven or eight of those teams, mentoring those kids. During Homecoming week my seniors went to middle schools and elementary schools during lunch time getting kids pumped up. They are my ambassadors for the youth. That is where it needs to start. It is going to take a little time, but I credit the seniors and the juniors this year. There are not that many of us, but I love those kids. They are working hard and are being great ambassadors for our program.”

The Rosemount Irish used a punishing ground game and an effective play-action game to take control early, but the undermanned Jaguars hung tough. The Jaguars have had a number of injuries this season and had a few guys go down in this game. They are starting a number of underclassmen, including junior quarterback Noah Luedtke, who showed he can make good decisions with the football and was accurate on a number of short to intermediate throws.

Carlson, however, is not focusing on the future at the expense of the seniors who have hung with the program.

“My goal is I am devoted to this year’s seniors and juniors,” said Carlson. “We are trying to win from here on out. It is nice knowing we drop down a class (to 5A) for the section playoffs. We go through this conference and there is a reason why we are in a lower class than everybody else that we play, except Apple Valley. It’s tough, but we have some kids coming back next year that I am excited about.”

After years of being an assistant coach, Carlson finally got the job he had always wanted.

“I love it,” he said. “This is something I have wanted to do for a long time and I have loved every minute of it.”
Carlson has handled the transition to the big job very well and has had some great mentors along the way.

“All the stories I have heard are true,” said the Bethel graduate. “Stan Skjei, the former Jefferson head coach and my coach, told me being a head coach is 75 percent other stuff and 25 percent coaching. I have found that to be true. I have had a great opportunity to work with a great booster club, great administration, student body and staff. They have made it very easy for me to transition into this.”

Between Skjei, former Jefferson head coach Jon Leverenz and Dave Fritze at Eagan, Carlson knows he has had some great mentors.

“I have watched and learned from a lot of great coaches,” said Carlson.

The focus during the offseason will be on continuing to build the youth program and developing the underclassmen who were forced to play earlier than Carlson wanted. They lost to injury, among others, their starting quarterback, starting defensive end and starting linebacker in the first two weeks. Next year the inexperience of this year will translate into a more experienced team.

“We’ve got a lot of sophomores playing some good football,” said Carlson. “You saw some of them today, (linebacker) Teddy Kalina and (defensive end) Noah Siiro. Those are sophomores playing for us. Then you have guys like Luedtke who will be back so we do have some guys waiting in the wings.”

Another underclassman who is a big contributor on the offensive side of the ball has been junior running back Dakota Mack. Mack scored the Jaguars’ touchdown on a nice inside trap play out of a shotgun spread offense that Jefferson plays the majority of the game.

Although their regular-season record this year will not show it, Carlson and his staff have a good foundation set and have Jefferson football back on the right track.


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