NIAGARA, Wis. - The son of two highly-successful Niagara High School coaches embarked on his own career Friday.
Bret St. Arnauld, a record-breaking running back with the Northern Elite Predators co-op, led Delavan-Darien into the 2014 high school football season against East Troy.
"I'm excited about the season," said the son of Carol and Dan (Lefty) St. Arnauld. "I think we will compete."
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Niagara’s Bret St. Arnauld kicked off his Delavan-Darien High School football coaching career Friday. The Comets rolled 48-10 over East Troy.
Carol St. Arnauld, with a state title to her credit, closes out her Niagara volleyball coaching career this season. Her husband, now an Iron Mountain High School assistant, coached the Badgers and Predators to football greatness.
At the young age of 26, Dan St. Arnauld became the Brillion High School head coach. Bret, who also happens to be 26, won out over 40 other Delavan-Darien coaching candidates.
"Bret has been breaking down football film since he was eight years old," said the senior St. Arnauld. "When it comes to football and life experience he's older than 26."
St. Arnauld has already acquired a taste for high school football coaching. He worked on the Utica Eisenhower staff, Michigan's largest high school, for one season. Incidentally, Delavan-Darien is a Division 3 school and smallest in the Southern Lakes Conference with an enrollment of 756.
In addition to his parents and other Niagara coaches-teachers, Bret St. Arnauld can draw on the talents of others that have touched his life. Iron Mountain's Randy Awrey, head coach at Concordia-Chicago, is one of them. St. Arnauld spent three seasons with Awrey at Saginaw Valley State.
"Randy Awrey was all business on the field and a players coach off the field," said St. Arnauld, recalling how Awrey would drop everything if a player stopped by his office. "I want to model my coaching style after him. I've been influenced by very good people along the way."
St. Arnauld refers to Jim Hoogland, Niagara boys basketball coach and former football defensive coordinator, as a "second dad."
"Brett has grown up with good people," Dan St. Arnauld said.
There's another Iron Mountain man helping out St. Arnauld in his rookie season. Bob Landsee, a University of Wisconsin line great who played for the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles, showed up at the Comets' pre-season camp. Landsee has also coached professionally with indoor football league teams.
John Alder, one of the Delavan-Darien assistants, roomed and played on the same Wisconsin teams with Landsee.
"Bob has taken him under his wing," said Dan St. Arnauld. "Bob knows his stuff and really befriended Bret."
Noted Bret, "Bob Landsee is over here a lot (from Madison). He's intense and a great guy. When he talks, I listen."
Delavan-Darien, located in southern Wisconsin near Janesville, needed a football coach when Steve Tenhagen left for his alma mater at Burlington High School. Tenhagen was the pass-catching target of Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo at Burlington.
Tenhagen, who posted a 33-42 record in seven DD seasons, has been helpful with the transition. St. Arnauld worked the Burlington football camp where he got to meet Romo. Should be interesting when Burlington and Delavan-Darien meet this season.
Quarterback Jesse Collins, a league MVP, will spearhead St. Arnauld's inaugural team. The Comets reached the 2010 Division 3 state semifinals.
"He moves well and throws on the run," said St. Arnauld, a long-term sub teacher last year.
Don't look for Dan St. Arnauld to be hovering around the Delavan-Darien program.
"Bret needs to establish himself," said his dad, proud that two other Niagara stars - Matt Molle, Seymour, and James Westrich, Bonduel -became high school head football coaches. "I've told him to be up front with his players and don't throw anybody under the bus."
His dad also told Bret to enjoy the experience.
"There's a lot of responsibilities but I've learned a lot from all those years with my parents," said Bret St. Arnauld, adding the Delavan-Darien administration has provided plenty of support.
For his first season, St. Arnauld has created a team logo and brought in a smoke-filled chute for his players to pop out of prior to the game.
He's already made great in-roads with the program, receiving the highest compliment a coach can get from a parent:
"You've renewed my son's love for the game."