Owatonna assistant coach named the state’s best
The Owatonna football team has won five straight section championships and recently the Huskies’ coaching staff members have started to receive recognition for their team’s success.
A couple seasons ago, Head Coach Jeff Williams was named the Minnesota High School Coach of the Year, and this season Coach Doug Wanous was named Minnesota’s 2020 Assistant Coach of the Year.
Wanous has been coaching at Owatonna for 29 years, including the past 22 as varsity assistant/head offensive line coach.
Williams said Wanous has put in the work to become a great coach.
“Doug is a real student of the game. He is a relentless ‘film watcher’ and he picks up subtleties from video that few others see. This gives his players a tremendous advantage in their preparation each week,” Williams said. “His memory and organization are also important in the preparation of the weekly game plan. He will say, ‘Five years ago, this team did this to us. We need to prepare for that.’ It is amazing how many times a team will jump into a defense that we hadn't seen in years and Doug's kids were prepared to handle it. His attention to detail is unmatched.”
In addition to being a student of the game, Assistant Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator Marc Achterkirch said Wanous is an extremely intelligent football coach who is constantly looking for better blocking schemes, whether it’s zone blocking or the power run game.
“He’s always willing to listen and learn. He reaches out to colleagues and peers around the state and country. He also took a lot of techniques from former head coach Jerry Peters and former head offensive line coach Ed Draheim and implemented them as a coach himself,” he said.
He mentioned that Coach Wanous’ knowledge of the game helps his kids overachieve.
“I think that’s part of what makes a great coach -- he gets them to play above and beyond what they thought they could,” he said.
Another way he gets his players to perform better, Williams said, is by creating a culture of doing the dirty work so the team can succeed.
“Doug has created a culture of ‘Offensive Line Play’ that is a big part of our tradition and our success over the years. He has established an incredible esprit de corps among the guys and they know how important they are to our ability to move the football. They embrace being the "Blue Collar" guys who do not get their names in the newspaper, do not win MVP awards, and simply don't get recognized for their true contribution.
“There are really no other athletes in team sports that do not get to touch the ball and score points. Developing that ‘team first’ attitude is challenging, and Doug, along with Assistant Offensive Line Coach Marc Wiese, are experts at developing that spirit of sacrifice for the good of the team,” he said.
The fruits of their sacrifice have been five section championships and two state titles.
Coach Achterkirch agreed, saying the work of Coach Wanous and the offensive line has been a key factor to the Huskies’ recent success.
“The success that our offense has had starts and ends with the offensive line. They’re the bedrock of our offense and without Coach Wanous and his work with the offensive line in the offseason and throughout long seasons we certainly wouldn’t have had the same success,” he said.
That success, Williams said, has helped the Huskies’ coaches get recognized for their hard work.
“There are many deserving assistant coaches in Minnesota. We have been blessed to have had some success due to great players in our program. This has raised our visibility throughout the State of Minnesota,” he said. “Our ability to win games and championships in those years is truly the mark of a great coach. Regardless of the size, skills, and ability of his linemen group, they are always a well-oiled machine. That is what attracts the respect of Doug's peers throughout the state.”
In addition to coaching his players to on-field success, Achterkirch said Coach Wanous has provided a great experience to a lot of young men who have had him as their coach.
“He’s made a big impact on the football field, but a greater impact on helping become better men. Success on the field, but our number one priority is we create better young men than when they came in. Wanous has provided that for many years for a lot of young guys,” he said.
He added that hundreds of kids have benefitted from his coaching while many more students have benefitted from his teaching at the high school. “He’s definitely a treasure to the city of Owatonna.”