All Journal Defense:
Lance Briard, Springfield
SPRINGFIELD - Lance Briard is by no means a stranger to the football field in Springfield.
The senior's dad is not only an assistant varsity wrestling coach for the River Valley wrestling program (Springfield, Sleepy Eye, Sleepy Eye St. Mary's co-op), but he's also the defensive co-ordinator for the Springfield football team.
Needless to say, Briard has grown up around football and wrestling. This past winter, he competed at the Class A State Wrestling Tournament and finished fifth in the state with a record of 38-6 and that success carried over to the gridiron, where he was one of the area's most feared tacklers.
Briard's unique blend of size and speed (Springfield coach Paul Dunn said he ran a 4.8 40-yard dash as a 240-pounder) was too much for opposing offenses to handle. He was named the 2012 Southern Minnesota Conference Defensive Player of the Year while leading the Tigers to a 7-3 record. He led the Springfield defense with 143 tackles, 16 sacks, 30 tackles for loss and four forced fumbles this season and he was named the 2012 All-Journal Defensive Player of the Year.
2012 All-Journal Football
The following is the results of the 2012 All-Journal football voting by the sports staff at The Journal. Nominated players are ranked 1-10 with the first-place votes worth 15 points, second place worth 14 points and so forth. Only players nominated by area coaches were eligible for selection. First place votes are in parentheses.
1 - Jordan Anderson, St. Mary's, 105 (7)
2 - Adam Schnobrich, Cathedral, 92
3 - Dalton Elliott, Nicollet, 82
4 - Sean Mathiowetz, St. Mary's, 80
5 - Adam Cooling, Madelia, 71
6 - Erik Danielson, Sibley East, 69
7 - Evan Guffey, Nicollet, 65
8 - Tyler Bates, Sibley East, 38
9 - Brady Kerkhoff, CM/C, 34
10 - Cordell Bates, Sibley East, 33
10 - Mitch Neid, St. Mary's, 33
1 - Lance Briard, Springfield, 101 (3)
2 - Ben White, Sibley East, 97 (3)
3 - Matt Christenson, Nicollet, 85 (1)
4 - Tyler Mielke, MVL, 75
5 - John Mangen, Sleepy Eye, 70
6 - Tevin Mooter, New Ulm, 49
7 - Lucas Heiderscheidt, St. Mary's, 41
8 - Jeff Osborne, Cathedral, 40
9 - Christopher Kretsch, Springfield, 39
10 - Paul Anderson, Madelia, 36
10 - Tanner Elliott, Nicollet, 36
The 2012 season for Briard was one that he won't forget. Being recognized by area media and coaches as one of the top players is something that made the season even more memorable.
"It makes the whole experience so much more enjoyable, just knowing that there were so many people that thought that I deserved it [the postseason awards]," Briard said. "It just made me feel so much more special about earning those things."
Before the season, Briard moved from linebacker to the defensive line. He was a standout right away for the Tigers and anchored the defense from the beginning.
"He played Right Tackle for us [on offense] this year and he was our best lineman, but where he really flourished was on defense," Dunn said. "He played nose guard and about halfway through the season, we moved him about a yard and a half behind the line of scrimmage and go kill the ball. He really did a nice job of fighting across blocks and he forced teams to run teams to run outside. He was very dominant with the sacks and the tackles for loss and he was just all over the field for us."
Dunn said that he's seen Briard more focused on getting bigger and stronger over the offseason.
"It all comes from the weight room," Dunn said. "I think his lowest number of weight room visits was this year and it was 36, because he was at numerous camps and clinics all summer. He was just so dedicated into making himself better that he did everything he ever wanted to do and then some."
Even though he's physically bigger than most players now, Briard wasn't always the biggest guy on the field at Springfield. His passion for the game probably started as a youngster while helping out the team at practice.
"He started as a water boy as a fifth-grader," Dunn said. "He's been involved in the game throughout his school years. He's always listening and he's watching and picking up this or that. He's always understanding what we as coaches were looking for."
Growing up around the football team was big for Briard. But so was having his dad Jeff around, who taught him defense and taught him well.
"Jeff was able to utilize him in ways that I never thought," Dunn said. "Jeff has a lot of freedom with the defense and I think the fact that Jeff was able to work with Lance over the weekend, studying film and talking about how they were going to attack offenses, I think that really was a key to his success this year."
Briard echoed those thoughts.
"I picked up things from football camps, and obviously having my dad around the house brings me a lot of support," Briard said. "Just sitting around at the table, I can ask him some questions, and also him being a coach he's helped me a lot with my training during the summer so he's had a pretty big part in my success."