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Kern looking to open up Eisenhower football team's offense

Lions to install the shotgun offense

New Berlin Eisenhower’s first-year football coach Matt Kern coached this season’s seniors as eighth-graders in the Generals youth program.

New Berlin Eisenhower’s first-year football coach Matt Kern coached this season’s seniors as eighth-graders in the Generals youth program. Photo By C.T. Kruger

Aug. 18, 2014

New Berlin Eisenhower football coach Matt Kern takes over a program that hasn't made the playoffs since the 2011 season.

But unlike most first-year coaches, Kern has an advantage when it comes to knowing his players.

"I've had the benefit of coaching these kids — a rare four-year window," he said. "I get a second crack for me, and I'm familiar with these kids because my eighth-graders are now seniors."

Kern, 37, has been in charge of the Generals youth program — he still is helping in the transition — and he said it was pointed out to him recently that he is only the fourth coach to hold this position behind Frank Granger, Clint Grochowski and Jeff Setz, who held the position twice.

"Having gone to school here, I realize the importance of this job having played here (offensive/defensive line)," he said. "This is a huge responsibility. A lot of people care. I've really enjoyed it to this point. I'm not intimidated by Friday nights and the increased spotlight."

Helping hand

One of the big adjustments for him is having a large coaching staff.

"The size of the staff has been an adjustment for me," he said. "I'm used to being a little more hands on. I'm helping out with the defensive line at practice. I made the decision that I wanted to be involved with a position group because that would help my own development.

"We have great coordinators, so it would not be wise for to take over one of those roles. They will be on the sideline with me. I will probably be spending more time with the team off the field than the one on it."

Coaching staff

Kern's coaching staff consists of Sean Crowley (defensive coordinator), Jim Crowley (offensive coordinator), Rod Colburn (JV head coach, varsity RB), Steve Radomski (QB), Chris Lidwin (DB), Danny Kaye (OL), Shannon Stangle (LB), Andy Ludwig (WR) and Evan Dittmar (DL).

Jason Scaffidi is the head freshman coach, and his assistants are Paul Koski, Jim Brittain and Kevin Sowinski.

Offense changes

Eisenhower, which has a reputation of being a power-run team, will be working out of the shotgun under Kern.

"As we talked during the off-season," he said, "we wanted to put something together which works with our strength, which is perimeter speed. There will be a heavy shotgun, a good amount of motion, a lot of pulling guards, pulling tackles. We'll threaten the width of the field as well as the length of it."

Jordan Canady, an outstanding athlete, will join quarterback Sam Carey, Nick Dreyer, Joey Scaffidi and Nick and Jake Rastas in the backfield.

Tyler John and David Beshensky will be the tackles, the key to the Lions' offensive line — both will be two-way players.

Nathan Erickson, who the University of Minnesota is looking at, will be the place-kicker and punter.

Several of the names (six or seven) who play offense will also play defense, but another name Kern brought up was Grant Messman, a hybrid player, playing defensive end against some teams and linebackers against others.

"A program goal I have, which will be two to three years away, is not to have any two-way players," Kern said. "It's going to be tough."

The culture is changing under Kern, as the players were committed to being back in the weight room in June. His players want to make the playoffs because Eisenhower hasn't missed the post-season three straight seasons since the early 1980s.

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