As a history teacher, Andy Jarzynski sees some interesting parallels between his new task at hand and one faced long ago in the Civil War.
The new Eau Claire North football coach, whose hiring was announced last Saturday, feels the Huskies are experiencing things from a perspective General Ulysses S. Grant was familiar with during the war — albeit with much lower stakes.
“I think back to this story that one of General Grant’s executive secretaries wrote about later in life,” Jarzynski said. “Grant kind of talked out loud one day to people and said, ‘I’m really tired of hearing about how Robert Lee is going to do this to us, or do that to us.’ I think that really is spot on for the situation we find ourselves in here.”
Given a rough past couple of years on the field for Huskies football, that might be an apt comparison.
North is winless over the last two seasons, but is optimistic of what the future can hold. The Huskies won’t be looked at as preseason favorites to win the Big Rivers or anything of the sort, but they’ll only be concerned with what they can control themselves.
That’s an attitude Jarzynski plans on preaching as he leads North for the first time.
“In conversations with players, I’m really impressed with how little (two winless seasons) plays into their psyche right now. They’re just really excited to get going with this,” he said. “People are going to tell you you can’t do this, you can’t do that, and they’re basing that off of recent history. ... What I’m telling kids now is that we’re going to focus on controlling things that we can control, things that don’t take talent.”
Jarzynski takes over at North following five years as the head coach at Augusta. He led the Beavers to four wins last fall, the program’s best total since 2004.
Previously, he served as an assistant coach at Eau Claire Memorial — his alma mater — for 18 years and also coached at UW-River Falls.
North’s matchup with Memorial on September 25 might take on a little more meaning as the date nears given his history with the crosstown school, but for now Jarzynski isn’t too concerned about that perspective. He’s lived on the north side for years now.
“Memorial was really good to me, it gave me my introduction to coaching,” Jarzynski said. “But it’s not a whole heck of a lot different than going against another team. ... Perhaps my feelings will change as it gets closer and I’ll be more nervous about it.”
The Huskies will adapt to the personnel they’ve got when it comes to deciding how to play, but Jarzynski is a fan of the running game.
“Controlling the clock is really important, and I think the ground game has a way of setting a tempo in a game,” he said.
However they set about doing it, the Huskies will look to be on the upswing in the coming years. Good participation numbers look like a positive early step.
“We’re really excited about the large numbers coming in,” Jarzynski said. “Numbers are destiny in all of football, particularly in the Big Rivers. So I think the nuts and bolts are there for us to start going in the right direction, to build on the direction that coach (Dave) Decker and coach (Josh) Fizel had both started.”
General Grant came out on top with his Union soldiers. Time will tell if the comparison to North reaches that point too.