Tim Klingbeil has been in this position before.
The Wabasha-Kellogg High School football coach has knowingly accepted the wheel of a ship that needs a new direction.
It doesn’t scare him.
Before joining the Falcons, the
30-year-old Klingbeil coached at Montgomery-Lonsdale High School in Montgomery, Minn. The problem was after Montgomery-Lonsdale combined with Le Center, Klingbeil found himself out of a job.
Enter Wabasha-Kellogg, which is a program that has struggled recently. While that may cause some coaches to steer clear, not Klingbeil.
When he started at Montgomery-Lonsdale three season ago, Klingbeil said the Redbirds had one winning season in the past 25. In Klingbeil’s first season, the Redbirds didn’t win a game, but went 1-8 and 2-7 in the next two seasons.
There was progress being made.
Klingbeil hopes for a similar course with the Falcons, who have won 11 games over the past 10 seasons.
“It wasn’t easy. Every year it gets better,” Klingbeil said of rebuilding a program. “It’s a very similar situation.”
Prior to Montgomery-Lonsdale, Klingbeil coached at his alma mater — Concordia University in St. Paul. Klingbeil played tight end for the Golden Bears and uses things he has learned along the way in his coaching style.
However, he said discipline, not experience, is the catalyst in turning struggling programs around.
W-K has 14 new team rules, and each of the four captains are in charge of 10 to 11 players, making up what Klingbeil calls a battalion. If one player breaks a rule, the whole battalion has to run.
These are high standards, but Klingbeil knows with discipline will come results.
“We’ve challenged them,” Klingbeil said of the players. “A new system with new coaches is difficult to adjust to.
“When we started, we didn’t know a lot of their names. There was an adjustment period. But that’s done now. We firmly believe in our system.”
The Falcons have the talent to make the new schemes work, Klingbeil said.
W-K lost quarterback Hunter Baab and four linemen, but newcomers are expected to step in and make an impact.
“The easiest way to replace Hunter is with his brother, Austin,” Klingbeil said.
Austin Baab will have a speedy option in Jethro Roemer, who returns at tight end after undergoing knee surgery in the offseason. Roemer led the Falcons with 450 yards on 30 receptions and six touchdowns before the knee injury ended his season after six games.
Up front, Zack Shepherd — a MSHSL Class A state wrestling qualifier — is expected to be a strong anchor.
“I’m pretty excited about what I’ve seen,” Klingbeil said.
“The conditioning will take time. We need to get them ready. We are really stressing fundamentals. Schemes are irrelevant if you are the best fundamentally.
“We have smart kids here; they retain information really well.”