The Packers have announced that Matt McDonnell of Kettle Moraine High School in Wales, Wis., has been named the Green Bay Packers High School Coach of the Week.
McDonnell, in his third year as head coach of Kettle Moraine, just finished a playoff run that many outside the program would've considered highly unlikely. Just last season, a young Lasers team finished their season below .500 with a record of 3-5. Coming back with more experience this year, the team finished the regular season 6-3 and qualified for the Division 2 WIAA Playoffs as a No. 6 seed. The Lasers knew they weren't the favorite to come out of their quadrant, but it was a challenge they accepted head on. McDonnell and his team went on to defeat the top 3-seeded teams and move on to the semifinals where their run unfortunately came to an end against Homestead, 10-29.
McDonnell credits the senior class for their belief in themselves and commitment to the program.
"This year our senior leadership was outstanding," McDonnell said. "It was a ton of fun; we obviously won a few games that we weren't expected to, outside of our group, but I think our kids expected to be playing for state, so it was pretty heartbreaking. But it was kind of fun playing on the road, we kind of embraced the underdog mentality and the thought that nobody believes in us but us and it doesn't matter where we play, we just have to show up and do our thing. So, it's a big credit to those seniors because they were the ones that really embraced that attitude."
McDonnell graduated from Waukesha West High School in Waukesha, Wis., in 2008. Throughout high school, he participated in football and tennis. He played safety under Coach Steve Rux. Following high school, McDonnell graduated from UW-Whitewater in 2013. His coaching career began at Black River Falls High School as an assistant coach in 2013. In 2014, McDonnell took to the college ranks as an assistant coach for Hiram College in Ohio. He then made the transition to an assistant coaching position for New Smyrna Beach High School in Florida for the 2015 and 2016 seasons. McDonnell then went on to coach Olive Branch High School in Mississippi in 2017. In 2018, McDonnell returned to Wisconsin and took the role of defensive coordinator for Kettle Moraine. In 2019, he was named head coach of the Lasers.
McDonnell is honored to receive the Coach of the Week Award but views it as a reflection of the entire program.
"It's a cool honor, especially coming from the highest levels of football," said McDonnell. "I view it as an award that shows what the kids have accomplished and obviously our assistant coaches too, because without them nothing happens. It's really a credit to the seniors. It's really cool that we won it at the end of the year because it's one last thing that those seniors accomplished to add to their resume.They've accomplished quite a bit this year, and almost all of it was unexpected for people outside of this community. So, I'm proud of them and excited for them because I know they're going to be fired up to be recognized by the Packers."
McDonnell and his staff oversee a program of 90 players with 45 suiting up for the varsity games. His assistant staff includes Nick Schroeder, Chad Buchholz, Kevin Yarbrough, Bradley James, Eric Solberg, Glen Derby, Auggie Hengel, Marty Vosberg, Michael Aguina, Aaron Bunten, Jake Makarski, and Dom Cappozzo. In addition to coaching, McDonnell is also a special education teacher at Kettle Moraine High School. McDonnell and his wife, Allie, have one son, Myles, and one daughter, Charlotte.
About the Green Bay Packers High School Coach of the Week Program:
The Green Bay Packers Coach of the Week program supports football outreach efforts by giving high school coaches the recognition they deserve. Nominations can be submitted by 10 a.m. every Monday to Ryan Fencl, Packers football outreach specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org. All nominations should include the nominee's name, address, school, phone number and reason he/she is deserving of the award. Continuing with last year's format, the Packers are seeking coaches to be nominated regardless of their teams' on-field performance. Rather, the nominee could be honored for how they have turned programs around, how the team has impacted the community, or how the coach impacts the players and their families.