Six-man football is still a small branch of football here in North Dakota, and Center-Stanton is entering its second year in the small league.
This season the Wildcats have a new coach, and as of this week, a whole new look on offense.
For most of the summer, Center-Stanton didn’t have a football coach, and that’s when Matt Gonzales pounced on the opportunity.
“They needed someone here come July,” head coach Matt Gonzales said. “They were still looking for coaches. I’ve always wanted to coach, so I talked to our superintendent and he gave me a shot.”
The Center-Stanton alum wanted to give back to his community, and it also convinced his younger brother Jacob to play this season.
“He’s always been involved in sports,” Jacob Gonzales said, “so I was really excited to have him as coach for my senior year.”
Matt’s young age is one of the best things about him to Jacob, other brother Sam and the rest of the team.
“With Matt,” Ben Thompson said. “we’re able to make suggestions, and then he’s able to understand us and try to put those into his perspective. He’s still learning along with us.”
And that learning process is still going on. After two tough losses, Matt and the team agreed that the old offense just wasn’t working.
“We were trying to play a nine-man game in a six-man game,” Thompson said.
“Three down linemen,” Gonzales said, “and then the quarterback, fullback and running back. We’d try to do the tosses and hit the holes hard, but we found out those Montana teams would just close those gaps.”
So this week has been all about drawing up a new gameplan, and it’s one of many jobs that sheds a whole new light on being a head coach.
“When I was in high school, I’d be like, ‘The coach doesn’t have it that hard. He just tells us what to do.’ But it’s definitely pretty stressful,” Matt said. “Each play call, each thing, you’re always wondering if you’re making the right call. We’re still getting the hang of it, but I think we’ll get there by the end of the year.”
Center-Stanton is in the middle of a conference game right now against Alexander. We’ll have highlights at ten.