I went to interview Coach Kellar at our usual time. I walked into his office and saw that he wasn't there. I was told he was in the next room, so I went down there & saw that the door was closed. I figured he was busy, so I decided to wait in the hallway for a moment. As I looked around, I saw through two glass doors - it was the entrance to the athletic trainers room and there was the football coach waving me into the room. I go in there and see him propped up on one of the doctor tables. His right knee is hooked up to some sort of machine and there's a bag of ice on it.
My first thought - somebody accidentally tackled him at the game. That almost happened to me in high school, when I was taking pictures for Princeton High's newspaper. I had to jump over two players as they were sliding towards me.
But, no, it wasn't anything like that. He hurt his knee playing basketball over the weekend. As he put it - "That's what happens when you're 38 and think you're 18."
He told me we could do the interview as he was getting checked up, so I hopped up on the table next to him - and with 10 other people doing things in the room - interviewed Coach Kellar about the football team.
Some interesting notes: This victory clinched Concord's first winning record since 1998. Also, had they beaten two opponents they lost close games to, this coming game would have been for the conference championship.
Q&A is below.
* * *
Interview with Mike Kellar, Concord's football coach (10/02/09)
Chris Slater: You guys defeated Fairmont State last weekend. What happened in that game?
Mike Kellar: Well, you know, it was a rainy day. Very, very bad weather in the first half. We came out and, in the second series of the game, had an 86-yard drive for a touchdown. We got the extra point blocked, but we kicked a field goal right before halftime to make it 9-0. Defense played really good in the second half, especially. They caused some turnovers. We got three turnovers in the third quarter and we were able to hold onto a 15-9 victory.
CS: What were the keys to victory?
MK: I think defensively, playing as well as we did in the red zone. We got bad field position in the third quarter, they ran a kickoff to midfield and the defense stopped them three times in the red zone. We got two interceptions and a fumble recovery.
CS: This was your first road conference victory. How important was that to you?
MK: I think it’s important that the team believes in themselves enough that they’re able to win a conference game on the road. You know, going up to Fairmont, a team that had 20, 22 starters returning, you know, their record’s not great right now but anytime you can win a conference game on the road, you feel like you’ve accomplished something.
CS: This is the team’s first winning record since 1998. How does that feel?
MK: I mean, it feels good in our first season to get a winning season. It really feels good for the seniors, the kids who struggled for three years through some trials and tribulations. For them to go out their senior year with a winning record was important. I’ve never doubted for a minute that this program would be turned around. But, for the seniors to have a winning season our first year was very fortunate.
CS: Have you heard anything yet from community members about the winning record?
MK: You know, I’ve gotten a lot of e-mails from alums. I talk to some people in the community when I go out to a place to get a cup of coffee, or something to eat. You know, people are always very nice. Most of them say that they saw us play and that they like the way we play, they like the effort our kids give and they’re happy that we’re getting rewarded with some victories.
CS: We’re 4-3 in the conference right now, right?
MK: Yeah. We’re 4-3 in the conference.
CS: How’s our record overall, in terms of the conference?
MK: You know, if we could have beaten Glenville and Shepherd, two games that we lost very closely, we’d be competing for a conference championship with West Lib. As it is, I believe West Lib. is ahead of us in the conference and so is Charleston, and then there’s a bunch of other teams fighting for that number three spot.
CS: We play West Liberty this weekend. What are your thoughts on that game?
MK: Well, West Liberty, they’re the conference champs this year. Obviously, they’re a very good football team, very good offensively. Their quarterback will probably be the Offensive Player of the Year; I’d be willing to bet. Very good running backs, some very skilled people. Solid on defense. We’re playing at their place. It’s going to be a tough game for us to win. If we go up there and execute and give it the effort we need to give, then we’ve got a chance to beat anybody.
CS: Who were your players of the game?
MK: Offensively was Steven Hearons. Defensively was Thomas Hearons and Aaron Flythe. Special teams wise was Dan Stone. Scouts of the week [red-shirt freshmen who participate in practices] – special teams wise was… Defensively was Chris Lawson. Special teams was... who was it... it's in my notebook, I don't remember it. I'd have to look it up for you. Uh, who was it? Offensive scout player was, uh, David Kellam.
CS: He was offensive?
MK: Uh huh. David Kellam - K-E-L-L-A-M. Our defensive scout was Chris Lawson. Special teams scout was... Hector Tanner.
CS: Okay. Looks like everything I've got. Is there anything you think needs mentioned that I didn't bring up?
MK: We've got a chance against West Liberty and the coaches and players are definitely looking forward to it.
* * *
So, there's that. The final football game of the season is this Saturday. I guess next week's interview will be some sort of "looking back at the season" kind of deal. Should be fun.
The story written from this interview will be in this Wednesday's edition of The Concordian, which can be found online at http://cunewspaper.com/.
If you have any questions or comments about this interview, feel free to leave them.