Lake football going from the mentor to the student

Mark Griffin

Josh Andrews is 36 years old, and Mark Emans has been in his life for most of those three-plus decades.
“He played for me back in the 1990s at Wauseon,” Emans said. “I’ve known him since he was about 4 years old.”
Emans concluded a highly successful head football coaching career at the end of last season, when he led Lake to a 7-4 record and a Division V playoff berth. It proved to be his final season with the Flyers. He resigned following the 2018 season after 32 years as a head coach. He has been a teacher for 34 years
Andrews, who coached linebackers and running backs at Lake for the past six years, is Lake’s new head coach. It is his first gig as a head coach.
“I think he’s going to do a great job with the program,” said Emans, 58, who had a 44-20 record at Lake. “He has the respect of the kids, the parents and the community. He’s our assistant principal at the high school, so he’s been in a position of authority and I think it’s going to be a smooth transition.”
Emans said he had been contemplating retirement for more than a year.
“I’ve had some health issues and it got to be too physical for me,” he said. “We had a successful year, but it got too physically demanding for me and I decided to step down. I thought it was best for the program. Josh has lots of energy, and I didn’t have that energy that I used to.”
Andrews played for Emans at Wauseon High School before graduating in 2001. He went on to play college football at Trine University in Angola, Ind.
“I went there as a linebacker,” Andrews said, “and then I actually went over to the offensive side of the ball and played fullback. We had our tight end go down, and I broke my kneecap and redshirted. My fifth year, I ended up being an all-conference tight end.”
Andrews said one of the main things he’s learned from Emans as a coach is loyalty.
“Coming back (to coaching) as a former player at Wauseon, loyalty was a huge thing,” Andrews said. “Football is something where life lessons are taught and learned and things should be done the right way. We want to play hard-nosed football and get after people and do things the the right way.
“I’ve definitely stressed to the kids that there is a different head coach, but there’s going to be a lot of things that will be continued and stressed from playing for Mark and coaching with him. A lot of Mark has rubbed off for the better, and Mark and I are similar in the way we do things.”
Andrews added that his coaching style pretty much mirrors Emans’ philosophy.
“We’re going to be the most conditioned team out there, and physicality is important in football,” Andrews said. “We are definitely going to try to be the most physical football team on the field. I was a fullback for Mark, so I enjoyed it back then. I like to really pound the football and dominate the line of scrimmage. We will definitely throw the football, but we’re going to have a run-first type of atmosphere.”
Emans said last year’s 60-man roster was the largest he’d had at Lake. The Flyers, who finished 5-2 in the Northern Buckeye Conference and lost to NBC champion Genoa in the first round of the playoffs, graduated their quarterback and several linemen off last year’s squad.
“Sometimes when new head coaches take over, you have to establish a culture and a climate, but that’s been well established with Mark,” Andrews said. “We’re going to continue that; we’re never going to rest or go on cruise control. We have some skill kids coming back, and the biggest thing we have to replace are the big guys up front. We have some seniors who are really looking to step up.”
Andrews said the Flyers will continue to run defensive coordinator Dave Rymers’ base 4-3 defense, and he also added former Genoa defensive assistant Gary Allen to the staff. Volunteer coach Brian Ringholz is now a paid assistant. Greg Wilker, Clay Rolf and Ron Bencivengo also return as assistant coaches.
Andrews has been busy overseeing the players’ offseason weight training and seven-on-seven drills. The first day of two-a-day practices is Aug. 1.
“I’m also the assistant principal at the middle school and high school, so right now the plate is pretty full,” Andrews said, adding that the reality that he’s now the Flyers’ head football coach “hasn’t set in all the way yet.” He’s also an assistant varsity track coach at Lake and is a full-time high school basketball official.
“I knew the only way this would happen was if Mark retired, and that’s a pretty big cost,” Andrews said. “I’ve always wanted to be a head coach. But if Mark wanted to be the head coach another 10 years, I would have been happy to coach under him another 10 years. So, it’s kind of bittersweet.”


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