The Valle Catholic Warriors, to the surprise of absolutely no one, went a perfect 9-0 in the regular season last year. However, the long-time Missouri stalwarts having moved into Class 3 last season will have plenty of challenges ahead of them. Fortunately, their seasoned and decorated Head Coach Judd Naeger is the perfect tonic for a daunting schedule. Ameritime Sports caught up with Coach Naeger and peppered him with five burning questions about the move to Class 3 and the expectations for this 2021 season.
1.The Warriors are consistently one of the most formidable programs in the state, are tied for most state titles in history and you are one of the winningest coaches in Missouri. Does it get easier after so much success, or is every year just its own challenging struggle for excellence?
Every year is a new year and every team is a new team. Nostalgia is our enemy. The most important practice, game and season is always the next one. At times, we certainly look back at a past game or past season, but it is usually the experience and the relationships we look back on not the actual win.
2. You have been doing this a long time, and your record speaks for itself in terms of results, so are there any standout moments in your tenure with the Warriors that really resonated with you on a coaching level?
The thing I’m most proud of is the life-long friendships that have developed with current and former players, current and former coaches and even opposing coaches. The huddle is always getting bigger.
3. Each season every schedule is difficult in its own way, especially with the move to Class 3, and every team is a threat, but are there any standout games in 2021 that will pose a significant challenge?
We have a very difficult schedule and every game is going to be a challenge. We are most looking forward to having to really work every week to compete. For whatever reasons, we are flying under the radar a little. Our kids and our staff thrive on that.
4. What are your expectations for this 2021 season, and do you envision success in a tough and competitive division?
Our expectations are the same as every year…to become the best versions of ourselves. We define success by how well we build relationships with each other and our God. We want to provide the kids with more confidence while becoming more selfless. When you succeed at these things, you are naturally going to win some ball games along the way.
5. How instrumental is the Valle community in what Warriors Football accomplishes as a program?
The Warrior community is the backbone of our program. There are daily examples of servant leadership for our young men in our community. The number of volunteer hours that are selflessly committed to our program is second to none. From the field, field house or our campus grounds, there is always someone donating time, talent or treasure. Our program is a labor of love for so many. It certainly makes it a great place to coach the great sport of football.
Always the consummate professional, Coach Naeger has instilled faith, drive and unprecedented work ethic in his players and staff, and suffice it to say, the Warriors should be a dominant force once again this season. Infused with a strong sense of community and dedication to his craft, Coach Naeger adding to Valle’s championship resume is certainly in the realm of possibilities in 2021.
Good luck, Coach. And good luck to your Warriors.