Chances are Niles’ head football coach Brad Yeager won’t be getting much sympathy from his counterparts in the Valley this season. That’s because he has a problem that some of the other coaches would like to have.
The Red Dragons have the luxury of being able to rely on not one, but two quarterbacks, this season and both are capable of the starting position. Junior Bryceton Baker and sophomore Zack Bailey have been rotating under center in the early part of the season and are expected to platoon all year.
Deciding which one to play and when has become the biggest decision Yeager has wrestled with through two weeks of the season. Both are talented and each have their strong suits, so the decision is a tough one.
“They are both kids and it’s a tough decision,” said Yeager. “We kind of just go with whoever has the hot hand and take what the defense gives us. They both put the team first and are good kids. I really couldn’t ask for two better kids in this situation.”
The duo, along with a strong group in the backfield, is hoping to improve upon last year’s 2-8 record. It won’t be easy, as the schedule includes powerhouses Poland, Howland, Canfield and Hubbard.
Q. Would you say you are an offensive-minded or defensive-minded type of coach?
A. I’d say offensive-minded, but I don’t mind building a good defense, either. I’m fortunate because I can have a lot of confidence in my defensive coordinator and then I can worry about the offense. I’m a believer in playing the cards you’re dealt, so this year we’re able to spread things out and throw the ball a little bit, which I enjoy.
Q. What is the best game atmosphere you’ve ever coached in (head or assistant coach)?
A. Well, the playoffs are always a great atmosphere. When I was an assistant under Phil Annarella and we played against Walsh Jesuit, it was a fun atmosphere. It was unique because we knew that we were lucky to be one of the few teams left playing and it was a great experience for the kids.
Q. Your team just scored to get within 1 point with 5 seconds left. Do you kick the extra point to tie it and got to overtime or go for 2 and the win?
A. We kick it to tie the game. Of course, I’m assuming we have a kicker in that situation. But I believe that you play for the next play. So, if we tie it, then we send the defense out there for overtime.
Q. What do you like most about high school football?
A. The competitiveness. The kids are out there playing for their school and their family and nothing else. It’s a neat thing to see how much the kids develop from ninth grade until they are seniors. It’s nice to see the progress they’ve made.
Q. What do you remember most from your playing days?
A. The camaraderie of being with the guys on the team. We were close as a class and it was great playing with all the guys you grew up with. Just being with those guys and all the great coaches is what I remember most.
XInterview conducted by Vindicator correspondent Eric Hamilton.