For Cedar Ridge coach Danny Brustrom, there is no place for his Timberwolves to go but up. And that’s precisely where the second-year coach intends to take them.
After finishing 0-10 and last in the 3-2A Conference in 2012, Brustrom is optimistic that things will be different in 2013.
“It can’t get any worse,” Brustrom said with a laugh. “We didn’t win a game last year, but those guys fought their butts off each night they were out there on the field. The kids came back this year ready to erase all of those memories.
“They’ve been working hard all summer, been competing in 7-on-7. They’re ready to show everyone that last year was just what it was … last year. This is a new year, and they’re ready to show what they’re made of.”
Trying to make up for a winless season is enough to motivate any team to do better the following year, but the Timberwolves will have a little added incentive to do well in 2013. Cedar Ridge was picked to finish last in the conference by the coaches in the league’s preseason poll, and Brustrom clearly understands why some don’t think too highly of his team. The Timberwolves were outscored 413-81, including 303-59 once conference action began. But the second-year coach is looking at those pitfalls as an opportunity to change minds.
Cedar Ridge returns 20 starters, 10 on both offense and defense, and has an experienced group that Brustrom believes is capable of winning games.
“That’s what we intend on doing,” he said. “We want to win games, bottom line. I’ve got a good group of seniors that are providing a lot of leadership for us right now.
“They know what it felt like to lose last year, and they want to erase that feeling.”
Brustrom is counting on senior running back Ty Henley to serve as the catalyst to lead the Timberwolves’ resurgence. The 6-foot 180-pounder was an all-conference selection in 2012 after rushing for nearly 700 yards and is expected to be joined by sophomore Zach Powell (6-1, 185) in the backfield.
Brustrom is also high on junior quarterback Brandon Bennett (5-11, 160), who started the final five games of last season, as well as senior receivers Brandon Lindsey (5-10, 170) and Colton Chadwick (6-6, 165).
“We’re expecting big things out of all of those guys,” Brustrom said. “Chadwick is raw, but he has gotten so much better, especially for someone in only his second year of football. Ty is an all-conference kid, and we’re definitely going to depend on him a lot.
“He’ll have a pretty good group of guys to block for him up front, too.”
That group starts with guard Micah Talley. The senior (5-10, 225) bench-presses 340 pounds and squats more than what the school has in the weight room, Brustrom said. Talley holds a scholarship offer from Lyon, one of the first players to be offered a scholarship by the school since it decided to restart its football program. Senior guard Tyler Cunningham (5-10, 170), who spent the summer in military training, senior Cecil Baker (6-0, 255), and juniors Andre Ford (6-1, 235) and Layton Lovell (5-10, 235) all figure to make a difference on the line.
On the defensive side of the ball, Brustrom anticipates that his team will be better than the one that gave up an average of 43 points during conference play. The Timberwolves will look to Talley to solidify the front after putting together, as a junior, an all-conference season. The linebacking corps is fairly deep, led by Powell in the middle, while Lindsey carries the load in the secondary.
All in all, Cedar Ridge has the recipe for success. The Timberwolves just have to put it together on Friday nights.
“Our numbers are up from last year, and that’s definitely a plus,” Brustrom said. “We’ve got 33 kids right now, and we only had 24 last season. That’s going to allow us to do some things that we weren’t able to do a year ago.
“But I tell you what, these kids took a lot of butt whippings last year. We were picked last in the league, and I know teams will be overlooking us. But I really think we’re going to surprise a lot of people.”