Graduation can be awfully cruel to high school football coaches. Just ask Aberdeen Central's Mike Flakus. A year after guiding the Golden Eagles to a runner-up finish in Class 11AA, Flakus' team managed just one win in 2010.
With those frustrations now behind him, Flakus sees brighter days ahead.
Q. What was that experience of last season like for you?
A. It’s my job to put the kids in the best situation I can and you have to make it educational. To be honest with you, we learned a lot a couple of years ago when we were winning all of our games, but we learned an awful lot last year, too. I think that’s the way that I have to approach it. You’re going to try and change [some] of your schemes when you have different personnel and different abilities, but our goal is to win as many games as we can, win every week. You go through some tough times, but as long as you make it educational for the kids and they understand that, win or lose, the next week you have another game. We really don’t celebrate too much when we win a game or hang our heads too much when we get beat. I think it just goes day by day, week by week and that helps you get through when you’re teaching kids other things about life, other than just football.
Q. What were your players able to pull from that season?
A. I think [they learned] it’s really important that we have a good offseason. We’ve got to get in the weight room. We’ve got to get our agility stuff done. I’m not a huge one on camps; our kids don’t go to ten camps a summer. I like to spend some time with them and work on our stuff. Hopefully, in the offseason, they’re motivated to do better next year because it, ultimately, depends on that. If you're from a small town school in South Dakota, sometimes when you have 20 kids on the team and 19 of them are farm kids, you don’t have some luxuries that we do here at Aberdeen Central. Our kids can make it in the summer, they can make it in the weight room and do some agility, and that’s what I believe makes them better.
Q. What are your expectations coming into the 2011 season?
A. I always think the sky is the limit. As a coach, sometimes those two-win seasons are as much fun to coach as the ten-win seasons. A lot of people won’t understand that, but it really, really depends on the kids. I think, realistically, we definitely can win some games this year. But a lot of it is the attitude that those guys bring. High school football, there’s confidence issues; there’s speed issues, size issues, all of those kinds of things. But I think one thing that’s really important is how the kids believe in themselves. If they come out with a great attitude and they believe they can win some games, expectations of the coaching staff, all of those things go into it. We definitely can have some more wins this year.
Q. What’s the ESD looking like this season?
A. It’s going to be a season where, I think, you’re going to see a lot of teams beating other teams. I don’t think anyone in our conference is going to go undefeated to win it. I believe that everyone, good chance, could have a loss or two. You could pretty much mention every team in our conference that has some real positives. I don’t know who is going to win it, but I know that we’re going to have to battle every week to win games.
Q. We’ll see you on Oct. 7 when you host ESD rival Brandon Valley. What are you expecting the see from the Lynx?
A. The thing in the last few years, they’ve always had playmakers. They’ve had a quarterback that threw for [a lot] of yards, but he threw some stuff to kids that could make things happen. I think they’re missing that a little bit. They’ve got a great scheme though and they’re always going to be competitive. Their run game out of shotgun is very good. Any time you can put some deception into your run game from that position...That’s what we worked on all summer and probably a little bit because of Chad [Garrow]. If we can play a great football game and win that one, that would be huge for us because they definitely will be a preseason pick up at the top of our conference.
Aberdeen Central played one of its better games in a 34-22 loss at Brandon Valley last year. The next chapter in this ESD rivalry will be written in the nightcap of our Hub City doubleheader on Oct. 7.
- Oct. 7: Brandon Valley at Aberdeen Central, 8 p.m.
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