After leading his team to a 7-3 overall record, John Odermann, the head coach of the Trinity Titans football team, has been declared the 2020 Class A Region 4 Coach of the Year.
After suffering a 3-5 record in 2019 and missing the playoffs, Odermann's Titans came back in 2020 with a vengeance earning a solid 4-1 conference record, 7-3 overall, placed second in the region, but saw its season end with a 33-0 loss to Velva in the playoffs. Despite the loss, Odermann and his Titans were highly praised for the overall season.
Odermann said it's an all-team effort, including the assistant coaches.
"It’s an honor to be given that award and be voted by the other coaches that you’re playing against but that really is an award that you don’t win without quality assistance," Odermann said. "I can’t say enough about what those guys have done and what they do for our players. They got families, they got kids, but they show up day in and day out to commit time and energy to our players that we also really care about and love and those kids return the favor.
"I’m blessed to have coaches that are committed," Odermann added. "We’ve been able to create a great consistency with our coaching staff with having the same guys come in year in and year out and to have some familiarity with the kids and familiarity with each other, knowing the other’s strengths and weaknesses we can kind of build off each other’s strengths and cover up each others weaknesses, that’s what really makes us a strong unit."
Along with Odermann being named Coach of the Year, Odermann's athletes, among those being seniors running back Nathaniel Jilek and linemen Zach Pavlicek and Tanner Soehren were also named to the All Region First Team.
"I was just really happy with all the recognition that they were able to earn throughout the season by all the coaches throughout the region," Odermann said. "It just goes to show how those coaches respect the amount of hard work our kids put in throughout the year and the offseason. It was a tribute to those kids and how hard they work and the impact they made for our team."
Odermann praised Jilek for his spectacular 2020 season after suffering an MCL tear in the second game in the 2019 season.
"Nathaniel, really I think, set the tone for us for the entire year on the offensive side of the ball," he said. "From the very first game Nathaniel was a leader on the offensive side and I think he was the leader of the region. I think he was an example, not just to our kids but all the kids in the region, that with good sportsmanship and leadership, anything can happen. He’s one of a kind."
Odermann noted the amount of hard work Pavlicek put into the season both on and off the field in order to play his first full season of football for the Titans.
"Zach is a kid especially that I was really happy with what he was able to provide for us on the defensive line this year," he said. "We were a different team when Zach was able to play … this was his first full year of football and to be able to have the type of year to earn All Region honors, that just shows how special of a kid he was."
Odermann noted the same could be said about Soehren and his performance this season.
"With Tanner, he made several really big plays for us early in the season and was a consistent performer for us in the end and made sure that we won that battle on the point of attack," he said. "On the defensive side of the ball he was a big part of our game plan. I think you saw later in the year."
While the three seniors were highly noted by all the coaches in class A region 4, Odermann gave credit to all of his players and all the others that made the All Region Team roster.
"There’s a lot of seniors that we’re going to have to replace on that list like Logan Bentz and Jake Daniel, but we got a number of kids that are going to be back next year and I think that we’re sitting strong from a returner's standpoint," he said. "It’s nice to have some juniors get some recognition on the All Region Team and there’s a couple other kids that I think had they not gotten hurt early on in the season that they probably would have got some recognition as well."
Odermann discussed what it was like to coach the Titans in what he labeled, '"the season of COVID," in which Odermann joined the entire fall sports world in questioning if the season would end before it was scheduled to.
"From the very first day of practice you could see what kind of impact just being together and being able to play football had on the kids and had on our coaching staff from a mental health standpoint. I think it was our refuge, it was our escape," he said.
"This year was a great opportunity to teach the kids that sometimes life doesn’t always turn out the way you want it to, it really throws you a curveball from time to time and you’re going to get knocked down, but you gotta get back up, strap in and live your life like a Titan," Odermann added.
While the season ended merely a month ago, Odermann said he is already looking forward to the 2021 season and especially the potential of his younger unit.
"I’m really excited about our freshmen class," he said. We had a number of kids that stepped up … I’m really excited about the hunger that I’ve seen in the eyes of some of those younger classmen. I think that’s really going to push us throughout the offseason, it’s really going to push our older kids get up and be motivated to get better because they got some kids that they know can play and are going to put in the work.
However, Odermann believes the current juniors, future seniors, will have solid leadership skills in the upcoming season.
"They are a really solid unit that is going to really set the tone," he said. "I’m really excited about where we’re sitting as a program right now and going forward."
With both Hazen and Beulah returning to the Class A Region 4 conference schedule, Odermann said he's already preparing for what could be a "meat grinder season."
"Every single game is going to be a meat grinder next year, our region is going to be really, really tough," he said. "There’s going to be some really good games, some really good battles and we got some great rivals coming back into the region."