By ERIC BENAC
News Sports Writer
POSEN-If anybody feared for the future of Posen's football program when long-time head coach Wayne Karsten resigned earlier this year, they can rest easy in the knowledge that former assistant Greg Pietsch has stepped up to replace him.
Pietsch's nine years as an assistant coach show he has the knowledge and dedication to help mold a Posen team that will desperately need focus and direction after Karsten's seven years as head coach.
"It's going to be a challenge, but definitely an enjoyable challenge. I'm really looking forward to it," Pietsch said. "We have a really good core group of kids that are very coachable and that I've known for a very long time."
That familiarity will be a major advantage for the Vikings. Pietsch's eight-man knowledge could give the Vikings a boost and he'll have to adapt from being an assistant to being more active as a head coach.
"There's a lot of new responsibility, but Wayne was a great mentor and we still talk about strategy," Pietsch said. "I was more of a strength and conditioning coach, but his knowledge of strategy taught me a lot."
Together, Karsten and Pietsch built a competitive eight-man program in Posen, especially last season. Before injuries sidelined its best players, Posen performed well against top-level eight-man teams and ultimately made the playoffs. As a result, Pietsch isn't likely to alter Posen's approach much, but may tweak a few minor elements.
"The weight room is something that I'm going to instill into this program. We're going to need every advantage we can and I think that's going to be our thing, to get strong and build team unity in the weight room," Pietsch said.
Pietsch's familiarity with players will also be an advantage for a team that lost several big names to graduation including quarterback Brandon Dietz, running back Nick Hincka and lineman John Zaborney.
"The team was really centered around those three and they played an integral part in our program the last three years. They'll be real tough to replace," Pietsch said. "That said, we have some young talent and some kids that I'm really excited to work with."
Pietsch will be joined on the sidelines by assistant coach Nicholas Idalski, a Posen native with a deep knowledge of the nitty-gritty sides of the sport.
"Nick is very knowledgeable about the offensive and the defensive line and I'm really looking forward to working with him," Pietsch said. "He was an excellent offensive and defensive lineman in the 2004-2007 period and the kids really seem to look up to him."
Though Posen may face some challenges with rebuilding this year, Pietsch's ascension to head coach will help smooth the transition from the Karsten Era and hopefully create a bright future for the program.
"It looks like we're going to be an underdog, but with a school of 82 that's what you expect. It's an uphill battle," Pietsch said. "I think we're going to find we got some players with real raw talent and that we're going to make good football players out of them."
Eric Benac can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5690. Follow Eric on Twitter @EricBenac.