Midtown: Sports

Kolstad looks ahead to first season at Sanderson

Ben Kolstad, Sanderson High School’s new football coach, outlined his plans for the upcoming season and the future of the Spartans’ program Wednesday in front of players and parents.

Kolstad, who came to Sanderson after nine seasons at the helm of the Cary High School Imps’ football program, highlighted his expectations of running a program based in discipline and unity to the estimated 75 players in attendance.

After spending spring workouts with the returning players in the program, Kolstad expressed his excitement for the upcoming season.

“Kids are getting stronger,” Kolstad said. “They’re getting faster. We’re excited to show how hard we’ve been working. We’re excited about that.”

Zairee Parker, a junior running back for the Spartans, said Kolstad is already bringing the right elements to reach the team’s ultimate goal: a return to the state playoffs. The program, which finished 2-9 last season, hasn’t made the playoffs since 2008.

“He’s focused, keeping us right,” Parker said. “He has us working a little harder. It’s more intense. He wants us to get as big, fast and strong as possible.”

Kolstad also introduced his assistant coaches at the meeting. The staff included his former players, teammates and others that remained with the program from athletic director and former head football coach Tony Lewis’ staff.

John Biezuns’ relationship with Kolstad goes back to when the two were captains on the Division III collegiate level 28 years ago. When Kolstad got the job at Sanderson, Biezuns made the jump from his head coaching position in Minnesota to become a defensive coordinator on Kolstad’s staff.

Biezuns said Kolstad hasn’t changed since his college days.

“The stuff he’s doing is phenomenal,” Biezuns said. “Everything, like he said before, is structured to a tee. Guys know what to expect. There’s no downtime. He’s got stuff figured out.”

“The expectation is to win. I left a head job to come here not to be mediocre,” Biezuns said. “We’re going to win.”

Sanderson will run the 3-4 as its base defense next season, according to Biezuns.

Kolstad also expects the entire school to be on board with the new face of Sanderson football. Each member of the school’s faculty and staff will wear a blue Sanderson Football t-shirt on game days, a motion already approved by Sanderson principal Gregory Decker, he said.

Lewis said this along with Kolstad running the program with integrity will lead to more notches in the wins column next year for the Spartans.

“I know he’s going to do things the right way,” Lewis said. “He’s not going to take shortcuts.”