Mutual trust and an experienced coaching staff breed success
Sports | Michael Whartnaby for The Clarion
Seth Mathis, David O'Reilly and J.D. Mehlhorn combine for a tackle on Sept. 15 against Buena Vista. | Matt Kelley
If you were leaning over a cliff with someone holding you back with a rope, who would you want holding that rope? Would you trust that person with your life?
When the Bethel football team’s defense takes the field every day, the players' trust is invaluable. This “hold-the-rope” mentality, along with an unfailing obedience to the coaching staff, has yielded a fear-inspiring, nationally ranked defense that has helped propel Bethel to a 5-0 start. Ranked No. 24 for overall defense and No. 8 in scoring defense, the Royals have allowed only 11 points per game.
The defense has seen exceptional play from a handful of players. Linebackers Brett Skoog and Seth Mathis have both been named MIAC defensive players of the week this season. Skoog has recorded 35 total tackles, one interception, three sacks and two forced fumbles. Mathis has tallied 57 tackles, one sack, three interceptions and two forced fumbles. The secondary has featured sophomore David Morgan with 36 tackles and junior J.D. Mehlhorn with 20 tackles and two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown.
The coaching staff plays a big role in preparing the defense for competition. “We require obedience,” said defensive coordinator Mike Fregeau. “When you are obedient, you will make plays.”
Coach Fregeau sees the big picture and spends a great deal of time studying film, preparing for each opponent. The defensive coaching staff possesses a number of special gifts that work together to create Bethel’s defensive powerhouse. The coaches that make this happen include Fregeau, Rick Meyer, Aaron Mills, Chad Richards and Jimmy Miller.
“We collectively have done this together,” said Fregeau. “We utilize all of our gifts.”
“Coach Fregeau is a great coach, has an extremely high football IQ and works extremely hard to make sure we have the best calls we can to stop what the other team is running,” Mehlhorn said.
Junior cornerback Josh Treimer added, “He is a master game planner and does an outstanding job with every position on the defense to put them in a position to make plays.”
Authenticity and trust are essential ingredients in the defense’s recipe for obedience. The players know that if each individual does his job and trusts his teammates to do theirs, they will be successful.
The “hold-the-rope” mentality extends beyond football, seeping into the players’ everyday lives.
“It’s about being on a team with a bunch of guys you can trust with your life, whether it’s in football, academics or your walk with Christ,” Mehlhorn said. “Football is a very fast version of life.”
As the players go to battle each Saturday, they draw comfort from the bond forged by unfailing trust. In success and in failure, one thing is certain: no one will let go of the rope.