Lind and Phillips named co-players of the year
Two senior linebackers, Austin Lind and Max Phillips, have earned the right to be named the Daily Telegram Football Co-Players of the Year this season, and aside from their excellent performances this year, the two players actually have quite a b...
Two senior linebackers, Austin Lind and Max Phillips, have earned the right to be named the Daily Telegram Football Co-Players of the Year this season, and aside from their excellent performances this year, the two players actually have quite a bit in common.
For example, both were inspired by their fathers to play football, and both maintained positive attitudes on the field last season, even when their teams struggled. And of course, now that Phillips and Lind are set to graduate, they will both be missed by their teams.
Some people seem to have their lives drawn out for them from birth, and if that is the case, it appears Austin Lind was fated to play football.
"I got started (in football) ever since I was born. My dad raised me up in this program," Lind said. "I just fell in love with it right away and looked up to a lot of football players and watched the games and just had a lot of fun.
"It's kind of cool," Lind continued, "because I thought, 'Someday I'll be on the field,' and that time came and I was pretty excited."
Since becoming an inside linebacker/guard for the Northwestern Tigers, Lind has certainly made his mark. In his senior year, Lind made 126 tackles and said he did not come off the field one time in the entire season. He was named to the Heart O' North All-Conference first team offense as a guard and second team defense as an inside linebacker. He was also named All-State honorable mention as a linebacker.
"Austin is a coach's dream in terms of playing intensity, leadership, and hard work," NHS coach Peter Lawton said. "Austin is an athlete that we could always count on."
Lind said the past football season was by far the best he had ever personally played, yet despite Lind's efforts on the field, the Tigers did not have the sort of season one wants to end a high school career.
"We didn't do very well," Lind said of the team's 1-8 season record.
The Tigers' disappointing season was the result of many different factors, said Lind. Part of the trouble stemmed from team's difficulty adjusting to changes in the football program this year.
"At Northwestern we've been doing the same stuff for more than 30 years, and we got a new coach and he changed things a little bit."
As is often the case with new programs, Lind said the football team had a little trouble adjusting to the new style. He said the changes made are certainly not negative, but they may take a few years to adapt to.
"We did what we could do, (and) there were a lot of close games." Lind said, adding that at least four games were decided by a touchdown or less. "It's just about execution basically and being a punisher on the field."
Lind may be a punisher on the field, but off the field he has rather a different persona.
Besides playing football, Lind participates in track and field, band (in which he plays the trumpet) and choir. Lind will also appear in the school musical -- "Beauty and the Beast" -- as the villain Gaston.
"Austin is just a great person to be around," Lawton said. "Austin was a leader on and off of the field and he will be truly missed."
Next year Lind hopes to attend either UW-Stout or the UW-River Falls. He said he is thinking about majoring in elementary education but hasn't decided for certain yet.
Whether or not he will play football in college is still up in the air right now, Lind said. He is still debating about whether to try out for football or track and field, and he pointed out that playing in high school is very different from participating in college athletics.
But even if Lind chooses not to go out for any sports in college, he will always have the memory of his final football game played as a Tiger.
"I knew that it was our last game because we weren't going to the playoffs," Lind said of the Tigers' game against Cumberland. "I'm focused on every game I play, but I was really focused on this game, and I had a lot of tackles and really made some hard hits.
"At the end of the game, when I knew that we lost -- (but) we didn't lose by much -- I knew that I (had) put everything on the line. I did everything I could to help out the season and just worked as hard as I could."
And with that attitude in mind, Lind can look back on his final season as a Tiger and find no real reason to be unhappy.
"Sometimes you don't always get what you want, but you should always know that if you play your heart out and if you do the best you can do, then you don't have to be mad at yourself," Lind said. "If you lose and you know you did your best, you shouldn't feel sorry for yourself."
Max Phillips, a senior linebacker for the Superior High School Spartans, began playing football when he was just nine or 10 years old.
"I started at a young age, playing flag football, and then I had a great foundation playing Cathedral football," Phillips said.
Phillips also credited his father as the person who got him involved in the game and raised him to be a successful football player. When he was still very young, Phillips said he used to throw the ball in the yard with his dad and do other similar things.
"He's the one who really taught me the game of football," Phillips said of his father. "He really inspired me to play football."
Since those early days, Phillips has gone on to make a name for himself with the Spartans. This year Phillips had 83 tackles and was named to the Big Rivers All-Conference second team defense. Outside of football, Phillips is involved in youth leadership for the Chamber of Commerce and likes to hang out with his friends.
Bob DeMeyer, coach of the Spartans, said Phillips will be hard to replace next year, not only because of his talent, but also because of the leadership abilities he brought with him. Phillips always had a great sense of humor and was simply fun to be around, DeMeyer said.
"Without a doubt, Phillips was the leader of the defense and the entire team," DeMeyer said. "He's like a coach on the field."
Phillips said he enjoyed the years he spent on the field for Superior. His sophomore season was a lot of fun, he said, and the team had a few great wins he will always remember. More than anything else, though, Phillips enjoyed just being with the team.
"My teammates were great," Phillips said. "That was probably the best things about it, being with my teammates and being able to go out there and play."
But times were not always bright for the Spartans. In 2005, Superior went the entire season without a win, a disheartening fact for the players.
"Junior year was tough, not having any wins," Phillips said, "but senior year couldn't have been any better."
For Phillips, one of the highlights of his senior year was the long-awaited end to the Spartans' winless stretch. Finally getting a win was great, Phillips said, but the victory was made even sweeter because it came against long-time rival Duluth East.
"At that point we hadn't won a game in, I think it was 10 games, so we were hungry for a win," Phillips said. "We came out and definitely wanted it a lot more than Duluth did."
The game was back and forth most of the night. Phillips said the Spartans played very hard and seemed to surprise Duluth East, a team that had soundly defeated the Spartans just a year before.
"Superior versus Duluth East has always been a rivalry, so we're always going to come out after each other," Phillips said. "It worked out in our favor that we scored last and won the game."
The Spartans' 28-21 win over Duluth East was Phillips' best memory of the season, but he was also happy the team went on to win two more games for a 3-6 season record. Compared to the previous year's record, it was quite an improvement for the Spartans, so what caused the change?
"I think the coaching was a big part of it," Phillips said, referring to DeMeyer, this season's new head coach. "Coach came in with a whole different mentality and really turned things around. The coaches really made us believe, and the captains did a good job of that too.
"We didn't want to focus on what happened last season. (We had to) try to create our own destiny."
As to Phillips, he's still unsure about his own destiny.
"I'm still undecided about college," Phillips said. "Since I was a little kid I had a dream to play college football. But it's up in the air."
Phillips is looking at St. Cloud State and the University of Minnesota Duluth, but nothing has been decided yet. Still, Coach DeMeyer has faith in Phillips' abilities.
"He's going to be successful in whatever he does," DeMeyer said. "Whatever he sets out to do, he'll do it."