ThunderRidge High School football coach looks at past for future

Nisenson remembers spirit of his days playing for Grizzlies


Doug Nisenson is a former football player at ThunderRidge High School and he’s now the head football coach for the Grizzlies.

ThunderRidge won two Class 4A state football championships in 2004 and 2005 when Nisenson played, and the Grizzlies captured three titles in six years starting in 2000.

Nisenson became the ThunderRidge head coach in 2017 and he wanted to re-create an atmosphere that existed when he played for the Grizzlies.

“One of the things I’m most proud of in three years is the mentality side,” said Nisenson. “When I played here it was always about us. It was about what we were going to go do. A couple years before I took over here it started to turn the other way. We started to worry about winning.

“Over the years our kids have sort of rebuilt the culture around how we work and how we practice and the importance of our attitude while we do that. In terms of comparing it to back then, we’re not as big as we were when I played and we look different in terms of what we do offensively and defensively. But worrying about the mindset of ourselves, it is back. That’s what I missed the most. Part of it is the mindset that we`re going to fight you till the end and we’ve rebuilt that.”

Nisenson hasn’t had much of a chance to mentor any of his players because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s been an interesting summer,” said Nisenson. “Our district shut us down to July 1 and then since backed that off to June 22. The restrictions were tough but we were actually able to get our kids organized into some private trainers.

“The kids were training on their own, which is different, since we had not had any contact with them expect for Zoom meetings. It’s better than sitting out and doing nothing.”

However, the early work the team did was fundamental.

“All we were cleared to do is work out outside only and with no footballs involved,” explained Nisenson. “So basically you are taking about speed, agility and footwork. It was one of those things where kids were back out and able to do those things.”

If the season is played, Nisenson has positive hopes for the Grizzlies.

“I do feel football season will be played whether it’s pushed back, shortened or played in the spring,” he said. “It stands like the intention is to play it in the fall and I hold out hope that is going to stand.”

And Nisenson says ThunderRidge will have an interesting team this season.

“I feel pretty good about our team this year,” he admitted. “We’re going to be a team of a lot of experience and also a lot of new players. We’re bringing back 10 full-time starters and 12 that started at least two games and another kid that started a game. We are young at receivers and quarterback.

“I hate the time we’ve lost because of the youth at some of our positions but I really feel good about our line. We haven’t returned this much experience on our line, offensive or defensive, in a lot of years. We have a stable of running backs and you’re going to see us use a lot more running backs. We have a lot of good experience on defense in the secondary and linebacker position. It all depends on how fast we can learn.”


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