When you drive up north to your cabins in Brainerd, Bemidji, Grands Rapids or wherever it is, you will more than like pass right thru the community of Little Falls just 30 minutes north of St. Cloud. I spoke to Little Falls Flyers head football coach Joe Bartos last week to get a preview of his team’s upcoming season. His Flyers program might give you a reason to take a break from driving on Friday night up to the cabin and stop in Little Falls for a game.
The Little Falls Flyers Offense
When you look at this Flyers offense you have a lot of players to get excited about. To start at tailback you are returning all-district back Mac Shanoff who had a excellent junior season for the Flyers. Shanoff is a kid with a high motor, who tallied 126 yards in a game against St. Cloud Apollo last year. Although the Flyers were down in that game, Shanoff kept trucking along. In the receiving core, you have an even bigger year likely coming from Luke Kush who was all-district just a sophomore for the Flyers and tallied almost 350 yards receiving to go along with 5 TDs. You know what Kush gets back? His quarterback from last year Austin Udy who is also coming off his young sophomore season. This dual threat quarterback also has great arm strength on film and you should also count in tight end target, Sam Gold as a larger threat to get the ball to in this flying Flyers offense.
The Little Falls Flyers Defense
One of my biggest threats of this Flyers defense will be Scott Crosswhite on the defensive line. Crosswhite has participated in Minnesota State and National Weight Lifting competitions and funnels a tough match up up front from any offensive line with his 4.8 40 yard dash speed as well. Another player that you’ve seen above on offense also shines on the Flyers defense and that is combo linebacker and defensive back Mac Shanoff. Having a guy like Shanoff who already is on offense, the fact he’s an excellent combo player on defense is something special that Little Falls has in Shanoff. With Shanoff as a combo player on the secondary, you can’t forget you also have more senior leadership in the secondary in Thomas Zupko and Jake Berendt, will lead a “young and athletic defense” Bartos said.
Coach Bartos’s Coaching Mentors
My favorite question to ask is each coaches mentor that they build their coaching around. Coach Bartos said Chris Simdorn and Mike Grant of Roseville and Aaron Sinclair and Jack Marmon of Little Falls go down as his four mentors of his coaching career. “Each has been a good man, who wants whats best for the kids to work for and with” when I asked why these four coaches stood out.
Goals of Flyers Football
The goals the Flyers have set are very simple yet easy for each player to understand. “We want to compete with and grow in integrity, commitment, and grit each day” Coach Bartos said as the Flyers also have specific goals with each unit that can be measured in which the score will take care of itself.
A Game of Numbers and Two Way Players
What I found surprising is the turnout of football players Little Falls has. It was stated to me that they average in grades 9-12, 65-75 players on this Little Falls squad. He did state that over 63% of his roster however does play on both sides of the ball which in my opinion gives players an advantage as they can what techniques works offensively and defensively.
Alumni Giving Their Time to the Flyers
One of the best things I learned about Little Falls is their coaching staff has three Flyers alumni within the football program. Brad Czech, Special Teams Coordinator/D Line Coach, Wesley Waytashek, Defensive Backs Coach, and Colin Eckman who coaches the Wide Receivers. To be that deep in alumni on your coaching staff, is a great thing to have at proves that Little Falls has a very strong support system when it comes to Flyers Football alumni giving back to the community of Little Falls.
The State of Little Falls Football
Although Coach Bartos admits the last few years have been a roller coaster, he stated that he has learned a lot on both sides of the coin. “Flyers Football wants to build itself into a consistent competitor” Bartos stated. It’s something Little Falls coaching staff has committed to regardless how “deep, complicated, cultural, and physical” it may be. I see great progression in the Little Falls program this year and look forward their upcoming season.
You can follow the Little Falls Flyers season on Twitter at @LFFlyerfootball or @LFflyer