|4/5||Div. III||All-American Conference Red Tier|
Mark Brungard has never been shy about scheduling for his Poland Bulldogs, and the 2011 schedule is proof of that, with non-league games against Hubbard, Austintown Fitch and Marlington. Poland is 2-2 entering tonight’s AAC Red Tier opener at Niles:
Q. What makes this year’s team click?
A. Winning seems to always cure a multitude of ailments and we’ve been able to win enough to feel OK about the season. We lost [two games] to some pretty good schools, so I think if we were 0-4 right now, I’d still feel good about this season from the standpoint of just the way our guys have come together because of our 21 seniors. They have a great demeanor.
Q. Has coaching staff stability been a factor in success?
A. From the top down it creates that success. If you can have a head coach who remains in place, some of the lower-level coaches can come and go, but if you have stability at the varsity level, it makes a big difference and helps when expectations — and how the game is played — are set from seventh grade on up.
Q. If you were able to do something all over again, what would it be?
A. There’s something to be learned from every win and loss, but I’ve had a couple real hard losses, like a 9-7 Week 10 loss to Canfield in 2006. That knocked us out of the playoffs when they made a field goal with 20 seconds to go. In last year’s Week 11 loss to Akron Buchtel, we went for two to try to tie the game in the first half and we didn’t make it and we were chasing those points the whole game and we ended up losing, 20-18. If we had kicked three extra points we would have won, 21-20. I think I learned that I’m never going to chase points early in the game again.
Q. Do your Christian beliefs play into coaching?
A. They do, especially the way I handle wins and losses. I think my actions convey the right attitude and the right way to respond. It’s just a game and it’s pretty to important to a lot of people, but, at the end of the day, there’s bigger issues. I think it helps to keep that perspective — and a little bit of sanity among the craziness.
Q. Would you ever play Girard and its coach, Nick Cochran, another former YSU QB?
A. That would be a great game and fire up the Cochran-Brungard rivalry again. We’d have a pregame show-down, maybe seeing which one of us throws the best to receivers.
Interview by John Bassetti.