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Luetters and his Lads Highlight All WAC Football Team

Brock Kappelmann - November 10, 2023 6:52 am

Liberal’s Luetters guides Redskins’ turnaround season

Brett Marshall

When Bryan Luetters, who had played his high school football in Dodge City, guided the Meade Buffaloes to an 8-Player Division I state championship in 2021, he figured he might just be at the small southwest Kansas school for many years.

But success in the ocaching profession has a way of changing the best-laid plans. A phone call from Liberal High School Athletic Director Kerri Miles to inquire about an interest in that school’s football coaching opening, was the catapult that moved Luetters just a little further southwest.

Now, in just his second season with the Redskins, Luetter saw a transformation that resulted a resurgence that produced an 8-2 season record, the first postseason playoff win in two decades and being voted the Western Athletic Conference Coach of the Year.

The only thing missing from the Luetters accomplishment list this year was winning the WAC. The Redskins did finish at 3-1, the same record as Hays, but in the head-to-head tiebreaker, the championship went to Hays following a dramatic 48-41 double-overtime victory by the Indians in the final week of the regular season.

Still, there were many reasons to celebrate the new dawn of successful football in the Class 5A school.

Football historians and fans have to go back more than two decades to recall the glory days of Liberal when Gary Cornelsen guided the program to four state championships (all 5A) in the 1990s and three other state championship game appearances (a record seven consecutive seasons). Cornelsen had compiled a 118-17 record during his tenure, but in the intervening two decades, those six coaches posted a won-loss mark of 65-106. Luetters is now a modest 11-8 in two seasons.

“I knew that Liberal had been successful many years ago,” said Luetters, who played for Dodge’s Dick Masters back in the 1990s. “But I also knew they had not been successful for quite some time.”

Putting it mildly, the Redskins had gone through seven head coaches in 20 seasons, and those had compiled just three winning seasons, two of those back-to-back in 2004 and 2005 when Steve Warner coached the program. Warner eventually went to Buhler where he has earned legendary status.

“When I arrived, there was a lot of mental issues facing the team,” Luetters said. “First, we had to get into the weight room and get stronger. Second, we had to then use the weight room to also improve our mental toughness. We had been behind in so many games in recent years and basically just given up.

“We had to transform their thought process. Rather than saying that’s the way it’s always been, we had to teach them that it didn’t have to be that way.”

Mental reps in the weight room became the daily norm, Luetters said. Day-by-day, week-by-week from a 3-6 record in his first year of 2022, the Redskins saw incremental progress.

In the 2023 season, rather than fold the tent when falling behind early, the Redskins found ways to reverse course, and rally to win several games in the first part of the season.

“There were a lot of discipline issues we had to fix,” Luetters said. “If a kid was late to practice, or to a .meeting, there had to be consequences. Once they figured that out, things improved. We had to hold everybody to the same standards.”

Prior to the start of this year, Luetters said he had a few upperclassmen who had yet to buy into the new system and philosophy.

“It became like a cancer, so we just dismissed them and things got so much better,” Luetters recalled. “Everybody was headed in the same direction.”

Luetters took little credit for the team’s turnaround, but instead lavished praise on his assistant coaches, with all 10 of them being 26 years of age or younger.

“They all come with experience in their own positions on the team,” Luetters said. “They come up with a lot of suggestions, we discuss them and if they make sense, we . them. Everybody has a voice.”

Luetters also had positive thoughts about his remaining upperclassmen of juniors and seniors.

“We started weights at 6 a.m. because there’s just no conflicts with anything else,” Luetters said. “This group became great leaders.”

Despite losing his quarterback in WAC Player of the Year Brooks Kappelmann, Luetters will have 15 starters returning for the 2024 campaign. He can’t wait to get back at it and see where the Redskins will take their next trip in this journey.

“I’m a southwest Kansas kid and it’s exciting to see these kids finally achieve a level of success,” Luetters said. “There’s still more that we can do to improve, but this was a big step.”

Liberal’s Luetters guides Redskins’ turnaround season

When Bryan Luetters, who had played his high school football in Dodge City, guided the Meade Buffaloes to an 8-Player Division I state championship in 2021, he figured he might just be at the small southwest Kansas school for many years.

But success in the ocaching profession has a way of changing the best-laid plans. A phone call from Liberal High School Athletic Director Kerri Miles to inquire about an interest in that school’s football coaching opening, was the catapult that moved Luetters just a little further southwest.

Now, in just his second season with the Redskins, Luetter saw a transformation that resulted a resurgence that produced an 8-2 season record, the first postseason playoff win in two decades and being voted the Western Athletic Conference Coach of the Year.

The only thing missing from the Luetters accomplishment list this year was winning the WAC. The Redskins did finish at 3-1, the same record as Hays, but in the head-to-head tiebreaker, the championship went to Hays following a dramatic 48-41 double-overtime victory by the Indians in the final week of the regular season.

Still, there were many reasons to celebrate the new dawn of successful football in the Class 5A school.

Football historians and fans have to go back more than two decades to recall the glory days of Liberal when Gary Cornelsen guided the program to four state championships (all 5A) in the 1990s and three other state championship game appearances (a record seven consecutive seasons). Cornelsen had compiled a 118-17 record during his tenure, but in the intervening two decades, those six coaches posted a won-loss mark of 65-106. Luetters is now a modest 11-8 in two seasons.

“I knew that Liberal had been successful many years ago,” said Luetters, who played for Dodge’s Dick Masters back in the 1990s. “But I also knew they had not been successful for quite some time.”

Putting it mildly, the Redskins had gone through seven head coaches in 20 seasons, and those had compiled just three winning seasons, two of those back-to-back in 2004 and 2005 when Steve Warner coached the program. Warner eventually went to Buhler where he has earned legendary status.

“When I arrived, there was a lot of mental issues facing the team,” Luetters said. “First, we had to get into the weight room and get stronger. Second, we had to then use the weight room to also improve our mental toughness. We had been behind in so many games in recent years and basically just given up.

“We had to transform their thought process. Rather than saying that’s the way it’s always been, we had to teach them that it didn’t have to be that way.”

Mental reps in the weight room became the daily norm, Luetters said. Day-by-day, week-by-week from a 3-6 record in his first year of 2022, the Redskins saw incremental progress.

In the 2023 season, rather than fold the tent when falling behind early, the Redskins found ways to reverse course, and rally to win several games in the first part of the season.

“There were a lot of discipline issues we had to fix,” Luetters said. “If a kid was late to practice, or to a .meeting, there had to be consequences. Once they figured that out, things improved. We had to hold everybody to the same standards.”

Prior to the start of this year, Luetters said he had a few upperclassmen who had yet to buy into the new system and philosophy.

“It became like a cancer, so we just dismissed them and things got so much better,” Luetters recalled. “Everybody was headed in the same direction.”

Luetters took little credit for the team’s turnaround, but instead lavished praise on his assistant coaches, with all 10 of them being 26 years of age or younger.

“They all come with experience in their own positions on the team,” Luetters said. “They come up with a lot of suggestions, we discuss them and if they make sense, we . them. Everybody has a voice.”

Luetters also had positive thoughts about his remaining upperclassmen of juniors and seniors.

“We started weights at 6 a.m. because there’s just no conflicts with anything else,” Luetters said. “This group became great leaders.”

Despite losing his quarterback in WAC Player of the Year Brooks Kappelman, Luetters will have 15 starters returning for the 2024 campaign. He can’t wait to get back at it and see where the Redskins will take their next trip in this journey.

“I’m a southwest Kansas kid and it’s exciting to see these kids finally achieve a level of success,” Luetters said. “There’s still more that we can do to improve, but this was a big step.”

2023 All-Conference Football

First Team Offense

PLAYER POS YR SCHOOL
Hudson Rice OL 11 Liberal
Sebastian Lopez OL 12 Garden City
Gus Corsair OL 9 Hays
Andrew Moreno OL 12 Garden City
Matthew Johnson OL 12 Great Bend
J. Brooks Kappelmann* QB 12 Liberal
Malik Bah RB 12 Hays
Cody Miller RB 12 Great Bend
Zayden Martinez WR 12 Liberal
Ian Premer WR 10 Great Bend
James Fieser WR 10 Liberal
Colton Brack SP/Ath 12 Great Bend
* Offensive Player of the Year

First Team Defense

PLAYER POS YR SCHOOL
David Holguin DL 11 Garden City
Erek Lira DL 12 Liberal
Tyren Holmes DL 11 Liberal
Slade Salmans DL 11 Hays
Trent Kern LB 10 Great Bend
Dylan Sonday LB 11 Dodge City
Wyatt Kirkpatrick LB 11 Hays
Dalton Meyers* LB 11 Hays
Aidan Schwindt DB 12 Liberal
Cooper Lindenmeyer DB 11 Hays
Kaiden Hoffman DB 12 Great Bend
* Defensive Player of the Year

Second Team Offense

PLAYER POS YR SCHOOL
Kaiden Bunger OL 12 Hays
Nery Quinones OL 11 Dodge City
Will Linenberger OL 12 Hays
Henry Fitzthum OL 12 Hays
Peyton Morlen OL 12 Liberal
Daxton Minton QB 10 Great Bend
Ethen Allen RB 12 Garden City
Mario Ruiz RB 11 Garden City
Jonathan Cano WR 11 Hays
Jarek Purdy WR 10 Hays
Maddox Spray WR 12 Great Bend

Second Team Defense

PLAYER POS YR SCHOOL
Dee’onn Jones DL 12 Great Bend
Aidan Davidson DL 11 Great Bend
Dio Holguin DL 11 Garden City
Edgar Hernandez DL 12 Dodge City
Xavier Tafoya LB 10 Liberal
Jesus Rodriguez LB 12 Garden City
Cooper Liles LB 12 Great Bend
Ivan Moreno DB 12 Liberal
Jayden Amaro DB 11 Dodge City
Emilio Zundt DB 12 Garden City
Tochi Okoro DB 12 Dodge City
 

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