Brandon-Evansville football: Coaches make difficult decision to step awayGreg Lanners and Mike Quist resign from Brandon-Evansville football positions
By: Eric Morken, Alexandria Echo Press
The Brandon-Evansville football program will have to search for new leadership after co-head coaches Greg Lanners and Mike Quist helped turn around a team that didn’t have much of a pulse when they took over three years ago.
Quist and Lanners handed in their resignations to athletic director Tom Trisko after the season this past fall. Lanners cited financial reasons as it became hard to balance work and coaching and Quist was forced to step down because of health reasons. It was tough on both of them personally and equally tough on the program.
“It was difficult because they are quality coaches,” Trisko said. “They really are. They really turned some things around in our football program, and it was difficult to see them step aside. I was hoping they would stay for a while.”
Both coaches wrestled with the decision before ultimately deciding it was best for them to step away. Lanners is the owner and president of Innovative Strength Concepts and found that he had to make a decision based on finances and the opportunity for professional growth.
“It was a difficult decision with a solid group of eager, young athletes coming up and a program just beginning to find itself,” he said. “But given the circumstances, I really had no choice. I appreciated the opportunity to coach for a few years and definitely enjoyed the athletes we had in the program.”
Quist admitted that he is still trying to put some closure on his decision. The former Jefferson High School graduate still has the desire to coach but is on different medications for a heart condition. Those close to him had been concerned from the time he took the job with Lanners.
“My family and doctors had been encouraging me to step away,” Quist said. “I had health issues going back to the beginning of our first year.”
That made it difficult for him to continue devoting the kind of energy it took for him and Lanners to get the program turned around. The Chargers were coming off an 0-8 season when they took over in 2009, but that final record doesn’t tell the whole story.
The Chargers were forced to forfeit their final regular season game in 2008 and the opening round playoff game because of a fear for players’ safety with such a young roster. Brandon-Evansville lost by an average of 35.8 points per game in the seven games they played that fall.
The coaches immediately began the process of trying to turn those fortunes around. They got the kids more involved in the off-season weight program and got the community on board, as well.
“We had a whole bunch of people helping out,” Lanners said. “We had four quality guys who volunteered as coaches and significantly impacted the program, and a group of parents who devoted great time and energy to starting a football booster club. Also, there was great administrative and community support within the district to plan and build a new stadium.”
The Chargers opened the 2011 season on their new field in Brandon with a 34-6 win over Parkers Prairie on September 2. It was the start of a season that finished with a 5-4 record for the second straight year. It marks the first time since the two schools merged that Brandon-Evansville has finished with a winning record in consecutive seasons.
The Chargers will graduate a lot of seniors this spring who bought into the program and put in the work to help turn it around. Brandon-Evansville will once again be young at a lot of positions next fall, but the hope is that an approach has been established under this coaching staff that will carry on.
“The next coach should have a solid base to the program,” Lanners said. “With high numbers and a great facility to play in, an active booster club and consecutive winning seasons to build off of. Next year’s team will be very young and inexperienced, but enthusiastic and coachable. I think the future holds promise for success.”
Who will be leading the team into the future still remains to be seen. Trisko has received applications for the position from inside and outside of the school district. April 1 is the deadline to apply for the job. Trisko hopes to have a coach named by the end of the month.
Whoever gets the job will take over a team that made a lot of progress in the last few years. Now it’s a matter of sustaining that.
“I hope that the parents and players realize that this increased confidence came from harder work,” Quist said. “If coaches and athletes are in the weight room in the off-season, and if parents get kids to practice, there are good coaches on staff to improve the football experience even more.”