Mike Minick of DeForest High School has been named the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association/Green Bay Packers Coach of the Year. The program is presented by Jack Link's Protein Snacks.
Earlier this year, Minick announced that after 20 years as the head football coach for DeForest, he would step down at the end of this season. It became a storybook ending on Nov. 22, as Minick and the undefeated Norskies hoisted the WIAA Division 3 State Championship trophy following their 8-7 victory over the Menasha Bluejays at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison. After the Bluejays took their opening possession in for a touchdown, the game became a defensive battle. With one minute and 15 seconds left in regulation, the Norskies marched the ball down the field and scored a touchdown on a 63-yard drive.
"It was certainly an exciting game," Minick said. "It was back and forth and we were just struggling moving the ball a little bit. Our defense played great. It came down to that last minute and so many seconds. We were able to hold them and they punted. Then our offense made some big plays. The scoring play was to our running back who came out of the backfield and got the ball into the end zone."
Down by one point following the touchdown, Minick decided to go for the win and attempt a two-point conversion instead of kicking the extra point to tie the game. Quarterback Trey Schroeder took the shotgun snap and executed a perfect jump pass to a wide open Nolan Hawk who had slipped behind the defenders for the go-ahead conversion.
"We were always thinking two-point conversion because we felt we had a little momentum going in at the end there," Minick said. "We felt like maybe our offense wasn't moving the ball like we wanted it to, so we were going to go for the win at that time."
With 32 seconds left, the Norskies' defense shut down the Bluejays as time expired. The win marked DeForest's second football state championship in school history. The first was in 1982, when Minick himself played for WFCA Hall of Fame Coach Jerry Roelke. Minick took over as head coach of the Norskies in 2000 after Roelke stepped down. Roelke passed away in October of this year, but his coaching and lessons have stuck with Minick and the DeForest football program.
"Looking at what [Coach Roelke] did, and his legacy, and just trying to live out some of the things that he taught us as young people, and then being under his wing as a coach, that means a whole lot to me," said Minick. "Being able to be a part of a staff, and a group of people that are so positive, have common goals, and everyone is working hard for one another, it's just been an honor and a privilege."
A DeForest, Wisconsin, native, Minick is a 1983 graduate of DeForest High School, where he played football, basketball and baseball. Following high school, Minick went on to graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in 1989. Minick's coaching career began as an assistant coach for New London High School in 1989. In 1993, Minick returned to DeForest as an assistant coach, remaining in that role until he was promoted to the head coaching position in 2000.
Minick credits the Coach of the Year Award to everyone involved with the DeForest football program.
"Personally, I'm speechless," Minick said. "It's hard to find words; it's an absolute honor and a privilege. I am truly humbled and I appreciate the opportunity to be a part of the award. This is a reflection of our program, our coaching staff, our players and our entire support team here at DeForest."
Minick and his staff oversee a program of 95 players, including a varsity roster of 65. His assistant coaching staff includes Nathan Kemp, Matt Kimmes, Kris Tudor, Eric Stewart, Matt Chrisler, Mark Olson, Mark Hinner, Todd Grundahl, Brett Minick, Ken Grall, Gary Andrewjeski, Jay Matthews, Kyle Borland, Matt Koslowski, Bud Keyes, Chad Yocum, Adam Schwartz, Nicky Houswerth, Jerry Schwen Sr., Eric Hamele, and John Derlein. Minick and his wife, Shelly, have three daughters, Molly, McKenna, and Breely, and one son, Brett.
About the Green Bay Packers High School Coach of the Year/Week Program:
In recognition of the honor, the Packers will award a $4,000 donation to the DeForest football program from the Green Bay Packers, Jack Link's Protein Snacks and the NFL. Minick will be presented with the award at the Packers-Bears game on Dec. 15, and will be honored at the WFCA All-State Banquet in the Lambeau Field Atrium. This marks the 22nd year both the Green Bay Packers and WFCA have awarded the honor together. The WFCA has awarded a Coach of the Year since 1976, while the Packers have presented the same award since 1998, in addition to the Coach of the Week program. More information regarding the award, All-State team and WFCA is available at www.wifca.org.