Sports Editor Nathan Hague talked to Marshall head coach Jake Griedl following the team’s season-ending loss to Huntsville on Friday night.
■ MNM: What do you chalk this one up to?
JG: Huntsville is a really good football team. We played three good quarters but we didn’t finish. Our kids did everything we asked them to do but at the end of the day, it just didn’t work out in our favor.
■ MNM: What if anything did Huntsville do that surprised you?
JG: They didn’t necessarily do anything that surprised us. In the playoffs, you’ve got to do what you do to win games. It’s not time to switch up your schemes. They did what they did and we did what we did and last night they did better than we did what we do.
■ MNM: Right before halftime, you had a pair of timeouts. Why did you not take one?
JG: I think we had two timeouts left and after their third-down run, I think there was 22 seconds left on the clock. There wasn’t any point on having them punt and potentially risking a turnover and giving them a shot. We figured we’d just take it to halftime and recoup from there.
■ MNM: How would you sum up your first season as head coach as a whole?
JG: Adversity. I think at the end of the day, this senior class, these players and these coaches went through more adversity than most programs go through in five years. In the defense of our program, I think we handled it pretty well. A lot of people counted us out after week one with our quarterback situation. More people counted us out after week two and then a ton of people counted us out after week three. This program circled the wagons and we did exactly what we knew we could do. We found a way and we won seven games in a row against all odds. Our kids deserve every bit of praise for that. They didn’t throw in the towel. They circled the wagons and they decided that we were going to get this done against what everybody said. We handled it and it was a very impressive seven-game winning streak. We’re disappointed it ended last night but I’m so proud of this team and where this program is going.
■ MNM: I ask your kids a lot about life lessons they’ve learned from sports. What’s a lesson you learned from this football season?
JG: Our staff this season and our kids the season have learned how to deal with, cope with the death of a friend, the death of a teammate and the death of a player. They’ve learned to deal with people they know and love, turn their backs on them, doubt them and how to ignore that and keep pressing forward to what they know to be true. They’ve learned how to overcome a situation when a star is no longer part of a team, how to rely on one another to replace that and continue to move forward. They’ve learned how to win the right way and do it respectfully. There’s a ton of life lessons that simply came from this season and that’s what I told our seniors last night, 10 years ago, you won’t remember the 7-4 record. What you’re going to remember is everything that made you a great young man. I’m so proud of what they accomplished. I’m so thankful for the fans who stuck with us through thick and thin, to the ones who knew what went on every day, to the ones who knew what we really went through every week and the ones who knew what we went through the entire season, stood by our side and instead of being negative, were extremely positive. I’m so thankful for those fans and those people.
■ MNM: That kind of leads to my next question. How has the support been after last night’s loss?
JG: Yeah the ones who have been reaching out to me all year when we were 0-3 were the same ones reaching out to me last night. The ones who were reaching out to me when we were 7-0 in district were quiet last night. Marshall is a football town and that’s to be expected. We have great fans. A lot of people don’t understand why we do what we do sometimes as a coaching staff and as a program, and that’s OK because I don’t expect them to understand but I thought our crowd was great last night. I thought the support was great but to answer those questions, the ones who have been in our ear all year long through the good and the bad were the ones reaching out, congratulating us on a great season and supporting us, knowing we were disappointed and offering us encouragement rather than criticism.