The Green Bay Packers have announced that Joe Zander of Fall River High School has been named the Green Bay Packers High School Coach of the Week.
Zander, in his third year as the varsity head coach for Fall River, led the No. 2 seeded Pirates to a close 8-7 victory over the No. 1 seeded Wild Rose Wildcats in the state quarterfinals of the WIAA-Division 7 playoffs on Friday.
The two teams had met in Week 2 of the regular season, with the Wildcats defeating the Pirates 27-12. Zander was happy with the way his team answered the challenge and stayed aggressive during the second match-up.
“We went into [the game] knowing that it was a competition against a team that we’ve already faced earlier in the year,” Zander said. “We lost to them, but we didn’t play so well. We knew it was going to come down to turnovers and just being aggressive on defense and attacking. Our coaching staff did a great job, everyone prepared for that week, and we executed. It was a slugfest, back-and-forth heavyweight fight.”
The win marks the first time that the Pirates have reached the state semifinals. Zander and his team now look ahead to face another No. 1 seed, the Black Hawk Warriors, tonight in Middleton.
And Zander knows they will face a tough task trying to slow down the Warriors’ running game.
“We definitely have to make sure we contain them,” Zander said. “Their run game is phenomenal. You can’t just say ‘we’re going to stop them,’ because kids that are running for 1,600 yards and 1,400 yards isn’t going to be something that you can stop just like that. We’ll contain them and hopefully kind of execute just like we did against Wild Rose, and force them to commit turnovers.”
Zander grew up in Columbus and graduated from Columbus High School in 2002. In high school, he was a three-sport athlete playing football, wrestling and track and field. He played guard and on the defensive line for Coach Jason Brunell. Zander went on to graduate from UW-Oshkosh in 2007, where he played football as a guard for Coach Phil Meyer.
Zander began his coaching career assisting with the Columbus football program in 2007. Beginning in 2008, he became the defensive coordinator for Fall River before taking over as head coach in 2015.
Zander and his staff oversee a program of 36 players. His assistant coaches include Andy O’Brion, Eric Krivanek, Dwane Talg, Cody Schultz, Craig Abbeglen, and BJ Wodill.
In addition to coaching football, Zander is also a Group Supervisor at Walgreens. Zander and his wife Amanda, have two daughters, Josie and Alaina.
The Packers recognize one outstanding high school coach as their ‘Coach of the Week’ winner during the 2017 high school football season. Winners are awarded several items and privileges, including a $1,000 donation to the school’s football program from the Green Bay Packers and the NFL Foundation, as well as recognition of the award on Packers.com, Wissports.net and Wifca.org.