“Spotlight” on the Future of AHS Football

Alexander addresses low participation in the program


Trojans huddle up around Coach Waldstein.

Zeke Whetstone and Dillon Sonntag

“If everyone goes out, we could easily get over 70 kids,” said Athletic Director Matt Alexander, commenting on the future of the AHS football program.

After going 1-8 last season, some in the community have voiced concern about the future of the football team. The fans want to see more, the school wants to see more, and the players want to see more.  “There’s always a little bit of concern” Alexander said, but he is confident by next season the number of players on the team will be up considerably. “The numbers that I have come up with for next year, there should easily be over 60,” Alexander said. The 2015 season ended with 38 players on the roster.

Head Football Coach Eric Waldstein has held the reins of Atlantic football for the past two seasons. Those two years have seen a combined record of 4-14. When asked if he has any changes in mind for 2016, Waldstein said, “As of right now, no.”  

For the moment, Coach Drew Duff and Coach Daniel Vargason are the only two coaches that are leaving the program. Duff is leaving due to a family move to the Algona area, and Vargason was only signed with a one year contract that has expired, explained Alexander.

Since the resignation of Coach Duff, the football program is without an offensive coordinator, and is on the hunt for a replacement. The process of hiring a coach starts with a local search, posting the possible job slot to teachers and internal staff. If no one fits the spot, the school then reaches out to external sources by “advertising,” as Alexander puts it.

Waldstein is confident that the school will fill the open coaching spots, and hopes that they make smart replacements as needed. When asked if he is looking at other jobs, Waldstein said, “I’m not going to make a comment on that.” Alexander acknowledged hearing conversations to that effect, but said, ”I can’t confirm or deny that. A rumor is just that, until we have something definitive that can be released.”

Waldstein said he is concerned about the number of players on the team. “We always need more guys,” he said. He has kept a recruiting base for the team, sending players to find the athletes in the halls, and talk to them about joining the team. He also has said that there are “a few guys” who didn’t play last year but say they are planning to play this fall.

Alexander sees potential in students who are not currently playing. “(Potential) football players are walking the halls and are not doing anything, and that’s disappointing.” Alexander is strong in motivating the students to take pride in their activities and he thinks the program could be headed in the right direction “if we have the right mentality and work ethic.”

Alexander looks ahead to the Trojans’ future. There are “lots of spotlights on the program to see what we’re going to do, and how things are going to get turned around next season.”

So now the biggest question for next season is, what changes are going to be made? A sense of uncertainty is voiced throughout the team. Junior Drake Roller said, “I feel like it’ll be similar to last season but I’m still excited. Captains always show good leadership and keep the morale of the players up as much as possible.”

Off-season activities such as weight lifting and occasional cardio workouts are being held, but the turnouts aren’t as good as players would like to see, said sophomore Ben Renaud. Morning weights haven’t appealed to the players as much as they did last season, Renaud said. “There’s some dedicated kids that consistently show up. I think it helps improve us as players and as people.”

With a spotlight on the program, as Alexander put it, the team could be on the right track soon. For the time being, the program is recruiting, trying to find a steady base and the best leadership. The countdown to the 2016 season starts now.