After spending almost two decades in his new home of Lake Mills, Brady Kurtz will – for the first time – be a head coach for the Bulldogs football program.
Coach Kurtz was a prime candidate for the position going back to last August when long-term head football coach Bill Byrnes announced he would retire following the 2022 football season. Brady has been with the program for 16 years, and five years ago, helped coach Byrnes usher in a new option offense.
Following coach Byrnes’ official resignation, an interview with activities director Jim Boehmer and superintendent Rogne, and the waiting process in between, Coach Kurtz was relieved when superintendent Rogne finally gave him the news he was hoping for.
“It was (a feeling) of joy and excitement with a little bit of good anxiety. (Like), ok, this is real now”, Kurtz said of the conversation with the school’s administration. He continued, “I don’t want to say it was just a formality because it certainly was not, but something everyone on (the football staff) had been planning for.”
Originally from Oregon, Missouri, Brady Kurtz is a 2002 South Holt High School graduate. He was an all-conference offensive lineman for the Knights in the 2001 football season. Following his graduation, he attended Central College in Pella, graduating in 2006 before he moved to Lake Mills ahead of the 2006-2007 school year.
Becoming a head coach and teaching has been something Brady has wanted to do since he was 14 and due in part to a coach he once had.
“(This) is something I’ve known I wanted to do, and I’m guessing, like a lot of other coaches, that came from the experiences I had whenever I was a player,” Kurtz said. “I’m happy it’s taken me this long, though, because I think it’s setting me up for success with all the experiences I’ve had – and (I’m) just really looking forward to the first shot at it,” he added.
Coach Kurtz has been coaching at Lake Mills since the start. Along with the 16 going on 17 years he’s spent coaching football, he’s coached basketball for 17 years, softball for three years, girls golf for four years, and middle school boys track as well.
As far as the Xs and Os, Lake Mills fans won’t see too much of a difference this fall. Kurtz plans to continue running the option offense and will continue to let Coach Budach coach the defense. Skyler Ahrens will coach the offensive and defensive lines, while Jared Finer will continue with wide receivers and defensive backs.
Three new coaches will come onto the staff. Former Lake Mills prep and Waldorf football alum Zach Throne will take the paid position that Kurtz vacated to become the head coach, while they will add two other volunteer positions.
The Bulldogs return almost everyone from last year’s team, only losing three seniors. That includes junior quarterback Hayden Helgeson and junior rushers Logan Bacon and Alex Mannes. Senior Beau Kaufman rushed for over 1k yards last year after not carrying a football until his sophomore season. Garrett Ham and Jeremiah Jensen both contributed offensively. Plus, the entire offensive line returns for Lake Mills this season.
“Yes, we will also look to add things and tweak the offense and defense to fit our personnel, but all these guys coming back are experienced running the systems that we do,” said Kurtz. Later in the interview added, “As far as a head coaching change, this is the smoothest thing we could do. We want our guys to use that experience they’ve had, and if we change a bunch of stuff, a lot of that experience goes out the window”.
Defensively, the Bulldogs return Kaufman, the team’s leading tackler with 52 total tackles, and Wyatt Hanna and Lance Helming – who both had over 30. Bacon had five turnovers last year, three fumble recoveries, and two interceptions. Coach Kurtz feels other guys will play more significant roles for the Bulldogs this season.
“Yeah, we return a high majority of our team. We have some younger athletes at receiver we’re looking forward to seeing getting on the field for us”.
The Bulldogs were 1-7 in the regular season and 2-8 overall last year and will play a similar schedule this year. They will open with a trip to AGWSR before playing Central Springs at home for a second straight year. They open Class A District 2 play with a trip to Mason City, Newman Catholic, in week-3. Followed by West Fork – who they beat last year – at North Union, against Belmond-Klemme, – who they beat in the week-9 add-on game – before they close the season with state championship hopeful West Hancock and district contender Saint Ansgar.