By Mike Deak
NAPPANEE – Growing up, the Andrews brothers kind of knew they would be around football for a long time. Years later, both are entrenched in football coaching careers, but are hoping football is in their futures this fall.
While it changes day by day, football on all levels is optimistic time will allow for a season this fall. What it will look like is anyone’s guess. But the prospect of football starting is not only wishful as the deep-rooted passion for millions of Americans, but also as a financial windfall that could crush other sports if absent from campuses large and small.
Trevor and Nate Andrews both have made their names in football, first as players, then as coaches. The two graduated from NorthWood as decorated athletes. Both brothers were in the program as the Panthers made a trip to the IHSAA State Finals in 1993. Trevor graduated in 1994 and went on to be a defensive back at Dayton University and later a longtime defensive coach at William & Mary. His 18-year run with the Tribe served as linebackers coach, defensive coordinator and associate head coach. His brotherly ties to Nate helped pull one of the best players in Indiana in 2019, NorthWood’s Bronson Yoder, to come to William & Mary and become one of the top athletes in the country.
Trevor would leave William & Mary in 2019 for Western Michigan, where he serves as the linebackers coach with the Broncos. He oversaw the Mid-American Conference Defensive Player of the Year, Treshawn Hayward, who made 142 tackles and was a Sporting News All-American. His defense also dropped nine points per game from 2018 to 2019.
Nate would become a North-South All-Star his senior year at NorthWood in 1996, which later saw him become a 171-pound wrestling state champion and place in the IHSAA State Track Championships. At Ball State, he would win multiple team awards in football and later became a team captain.
Nate’s football history has him back where it all began, coaching on the field that bears his and Trevor’s dad’s name, Jim Andrews Field. Stops at Zionsville, Lapel and Western high schools led Andrews back to NorthWood in 2014, returning a proud program back to the state finals in his third season in 2016. Since then NorthWood has won 25 games and been ranked among the top teams in Class 4-A, including a No. 1 ranking in 2018.
With so much on the table for both young men, one would think holiday dinners would be spent in the man cave breaking down film and erasing white boards.
“To be honest not as much as you may think,” offered Nate on whether the two talk football strategy. “I will have a technique question once in a while or a philosophy idea to run by him. He and our defensive coordinator, Dave Wilson, talk X’s and O’s quite a bit. When Trevor and I have the opportunity to chat it’s usually about our kids (all nearly the same ages), how they’re doing and trying to figure out how to raise them the right way.”
Added Trevor on his brother, “Nate jumped in and embraced it. He’s 100 miles per hour. He believes in the kids, and they believe in him. He wants to see NorthWood do well and he’s putting his heart and soul into it to make his alma mater proud.”
MAINTAINING THE STANDARD
Trevor admitted life as a coach during a pandemic is as difficult a challenge as any gameday prep or recruiting pitch.
“It’s a bunch of Zoom calls,” Trevor muttered. “The NCAA allows us to have eight hours a week of meeting time. So we do our Zoom meetings with our rostered players and make the best of it.”
The linebackers coach noted with the kids still off campus, and the state of Michigan being one of the worst hit by the coronavirus, the team has had to find a patience in expectations with their players. The mentality, though, shifts to an old NFL model, where players went home after the season and were expected to return to the team in the summer in a certain condition. No year-round model for the 2020 football players as they have had to stay in shape on their own with programs emailed to them from the WMU strength coaches.
“It’s like the olden days of conditioning tests,” Trevor said. “We’ll find out who has been working out when they hopefully get back here in the summer.”
The Mid-American Conference had not made a formal announcement on its football intentions as of Wednesday morning.
NorthWood’s hopes are a little higher. The IHSAA announced it would aim for a July 1 regroup, which includes football. Some sports have been granted earlier starts. Much is riding on football coming back, as the gates at scholastic institutions largely depend on football profit paying for other sports. The MAC has seen schools like Akron dropping baseball as budgets are needing to adjust. Nate Andrews is just ready to put his program under the lights and bring his community back together.
“I keep hearing the term ‘fluid situation’,” Nate said. “To me that means ever-changing. Be ready to adjust to the guidelines thrown at us even if that means adjusting multiple times. In our program, we call that ‘sudden change’, so we’re familiar with it. While July 1 may be a target date now, how that will look we have no idea. It appears that some fall sports teams will hit the ground running with full practice daily while other corporations may be scaled back while dividing time amongst athletes and other sports.
“This season more that ever we will find out in a hurry the teams and programs that have good leadership, character, and who are committed to the brotherhood of their programs.”