Sedgwick County is outscoring its opponents by more than a 10-to-1 margin in the 2018 football season. The 144 points scored by the Cougars ranks third overall in the 8-man classification, yet head coach describes his team as defensive-minded. "We don’t change a lot of what we do offensively, but we pride ourselves on stopping teams and getting the ball back," Michel said. "Part of the reason we’ve scored so many points is we have a short field and we get the ball back quickly.” If it's not broken, don't fix it. Sedgwick County is on the hunt for a fourth-straight state championship. That's not too bad for a guy who is in just his fifth year as the head coach of the program.
The players change, but his expectations don't and when his guys take the field every weekend, they stick to the formula that Michel and his staff have crafted. When the result of the formula is championships, it's hard to veer too far off the path.
“Over the past however many years that we’ve been successful, we’ve always had good defenses," he said. "I think that’s really the key. We have players and a system in place that can be successful and can score points, but you can’t do that without the ball and you have to score a lot more points if your defense doesn’t keep them out of the end zone." The Cougars beat Akron 42-6 on Friday night. They currently own the longest winning streak in the state at 26 games in a row. On Monday, Michel was the choice for this week's Denver Broncos High School Coach of the Week. The Broncos High School Coach of the Week is selected in partnership with the Broncos and CHSCA.
Years as head coach: 5 (46-6 overall record)
Years at Sedgwick County: 5 (46-6, 3-0 this season)
Previous stops: Merino High School assistant coach (2010-11); Sedgwick County assistant coach (2012-13); Sedgwick County head coach (2014-present).
Q: Why do you coach?
Michel: Really, I just enjoy being around the kids most of all. Obviously, I love football and I had a high school coach that instilled the love of football and coaching into me, but most of all I just love to be around the boys.
Q: What do you think it’s like for those boys to be coached by you?*
Michel: It probably depends on which day you ask them. I think that as a staff overall, we have high expectations of everything both on and off the field. They might say I’m a little intense at times, but like I said we have high expectations for what they do. They know that I’m extremely competitive and that I want them to be the best person, the best football player that they can be and I’m pretty demanding of that.
Q: What are your favorite coaching memories?
Michel: It’s hard to say. There was one season where we had a couple of firsts for our program at Sedgwick County. It’s existed since around 2006 and I think in 2015 we beat Merino in Merino for the first time ever. That year there were a couple of other firsts like that. So I’d say 2015 because we had those firsts for our program. It was also the first year that we won a state title. Really though, aside from games and stuff like that, I love to camp with the boys in the summer. Just hanging out and being a team, things like that are what’s most important. I have more stories and memories from road trips and camp than I do from winning games.
Q: What’s the biggest myth about 8-man football?
Michel: I guess the biggest myth is that it’s not real football. We hear that sometimes. We kind of like that people don’t think as highly of what we do. I would take the work ethic and the way our kids do things over a lot of other schools. There have been years where we’ve scrimmaged an 11-man team and been successful in doing that. Any time you can do that it’s great for us and for 8-man football as a whole. We can show that 8-man teams can compete, we just don’t have the numbers to field an 11-man team at the varsity level sometimes.
Q: What’s the toughest part about maintaining the consistency in your program that has allowed you to win three straight championships in a row?
Michel: Once we got kids to buy into what we’re doing and believe in what we’re doing, we just tried to be consistent on what we do throughout the week. That’s the biggest challenge is getting high school kids to stay focused on what we’re doing day to day with everything else they have going on, whether it’s classes or girls or whatever else they’re dealing with. That’s the toughest part every time is getting kids to be consistent every day. We don’t have a lot of problems with kids thinking we’re going to win because we show up and because of what we’ve done in the past. We really have kids bought into this idea that we have to work every day. We’ve had 40-point victories and then the next week had a ton of stuff to work on in practice and they buy into that and they believe that. They don’t rest on what we’ve done in the past. I guess I’m fortunate enough to have to good kids.