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QB Sinz, coach Aldrich honored as state’s best

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Associated Press
November 24, 2009

Along with the turkey and mashed potatoes, Justin Sinz finally can dish out a heaping helping of told-ya-so to his older brothers this Thanksgiving.


Jason, Jeremy and Jordan Sinz all played football under their dad, Edgar High School coach Jerry Sinz, and won more than their share of games. Jeremy went on to work on the football staffs at Harvard, Syracuse and Wisconsin. All three remain involved in sports.


“It was definitely something I had heard about,” Justin said.


Now it’s Justin’s turn to crow.


After Edgar’s narrow loss in the state title game last year, the Wildcats made it back last week—this time beating Eau Claire Regis, 46-7, to win the Division 6 championship.


And if that wasn’t enough to liven up conversation at the dinner table, now Sinz can add this: The Associated Press has named him the 2009 Wisconsin state high school football Player of the Year.


“It’ll make for interesting conversation,” he said.


Sinz, a standout quarterback who also punted, kicked and played defensive back, was selected for the top honor by a statewide panel of media members. The group also picked Burlington Central’s Tom Aldrich as Coach of the Year.


Aldrich’s team beat Chippewa Falls McDonell, 27-15, to give the Hilltoppers their second straight Division 7 state title.


The all-state football team includes a female player, Waunakee senior Kassy McCarthy, who is the second-team kicker.


Madison West senior Leighton Settle, son of University of Wisconsin running backs coach John Settle, also is a first-team state repeater in the offensive backfield.


Edgar rolled through its season with a 14-0 record while outscoring opponents by a 651-20 margin.


With a state title to his credit, Sinz now is looking to the future. Sinz says Purdue made a scholarship offer last week.


, and an assistant coach is scheduled to visit the family this week. While Sinz made his mark as a strong-armed quarterback, Purdue mainly is interested in him as a tight end.


Sinz said he’d like to make a decision on his future by Christmas. And while he loves playing quarterback, he’s excited about the possibility of switching positions in a Purdue offense that uses the tight end frequently.


“If I really wanted to play a little earlier, tight end might be my best position,” Sinz said.


As for being coached by his father, Sinz says it just seems normal. After all, his mother took him to his first state title game just days after he was born.


“Obviously, there’s a fine line between being a father figure and a coach,” Sinz said. “But on the field, he tries just to be a coach.”


Another coach walking a fine line is Burlington’s Central’s Aldrich, who is raising five daughters and works as a financial consultant in Burlington when is isn’t carrying a whistle and clipboard.


His clients are flexible. It’s just understood that he’ll be out of the office after 3 p.m. to lead practice during football season.


Aldrich said the extra effort that goes into coaching is well worth it.


“It’s the kids,” Aldrich said. “It’s unique. They make it all worthwhile.”


Of course, given the way the economy’s been going recently, it doesn’t hurt to step away from his day job every once in a while.


“Coaching’s been a great stress reliever,” Aldrich said.


Central lost several starters from last year’s state championship team, including some of the big-play threats that made them a dangerous offense last season.


Still, Aldrich was optimistic about a repeat.


“I was hopeful,” Aldrich said. “Whether we expected it? I thought we had a shot.”


It didn’t look that way when the Hilltoppers lost their season opener, 7-0 to Wilmot, a Division 2 school, and lost standout running back Sam Wagner for several games because of a broken thumb. But Wagner returned, and the Hilltoppers rallied to run the table.


Aldrich’s success has come without a drill sergeant’s mentality. Known for rarely raising his voice, Aldrich said players know when they’ve made a mistake and want to get better.


“I’m relatively laid-back,” Aldrich said. “There are a couple of things that get me going in practice—I’m not immune to that.”


Aldrich was a standout running back for the school, then called St. Mary’s, in the 1970s, winning titles his sophomore and junior seasons. He went to the Unversity of Wisconsin as a walk-on—“Found out I wasn’t good enough,” he said—and transferred to Carthage.


He stepped away from football after college. But when one of his coaches at Carthage took over as the head coach at Burlington Central in the early 1990s, he brought in Aldrich as the offensive coordinator.


Two years later, the coach stepped down, and Aldrich took over.


He wasn’t successful right away. After going 5-4 in his first season, he said Central went 0-9 in each of the next two seasons—making him appreciate his current success even more.


“It’s humbling,” Aldrich said. “You come in, you think you know everything, you’re going to take the world by storm. Then you find out it’s not just about Xs and Os.”



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