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Q&A with Natrona County Head Football Coach Steve Harshman heading into the 2021 season

Wyoming News Now’s David Graf welcomed Natrona County High School Head Football Coach Steve Harshman to the Wyoming News Now studio to talk about the excitement heading into the 2021 season, what he loves about coaching high school football and Mustangs to watch this season.
Published: Aug. 25, 2021 at 10:31 PM CDT
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CASPER, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - High school football season kicks off in less than 48 hours, and the Natrona County Mustangs open their season on the road at Cheyenne Central on Friday. The Mustangs are coming off a quarterfinal appearance in last year’s 4A State Playoffs.

Wyoming News Now’s David Graf welcomed Natrona County High School Head Football Coach Steve Harshman to the Wyoming News Now studio to talk about the excitement heading into the 2021 season, what he loves about coaching high school football and Mustangs to watch this season.

This interview has been edited for content and clarity.

DG: Thanks for coming in. I really appreciate the time. I just wanna start with how excited are you to have football back and to get ready and get going this season?

SH: Thanks for having me first of all. Well, super excited. We’ve had an unbelievable and great summer. Kids are excited. Ya know, Friday night lights are probably the only normal thing we got going in our country right now, and I think high school football is so important. And I think it’s so important for not only the participants, but I think our communities and the whole country. The whole United States on Friday nights kind of pulls together and huddles up together, so it’ll be good to get back to it. Last year was really well done as well. We’re really grateful that we were able to play, so we’re really excited.

DG: You’ve been a head coach for quite a few years now. What is it about high school football that you love so much?

SH: I’ve coached in college and had chances to return to college and those kinds of things. I think first of all here in Casper, Natrona County High School, it’s a great school, great traditions, the people. It’s all about the people, but I think all of us who are teachers and coaches are probably that because either our parents were, or some teacher or coach probably impacted us along the way. You know, my high school coach at Midwest, Coach Hoff, now 92 years old, and you just learn things from those coaches that are your mentors. I just think there’s such importance of learning how to get ready and how to think about the team first, and how to just work together. Because when you all pull together in the huddle, it doesn’t matter whether you’re friends or you’re rich or poor or black or white or any of those things. I think it’s about working together and getting yourselves ready to be as good as you can be and to watch young people go through that and really develop, it’s really good. It’s been a real blessing and an honor to do it.

DG: One of my favorite questions to ask coaches is who is somebody that if you’re showing up to watch Natrona County High School football on a Friday, who is somebody that you should watch on the field? Who is that one guy on this year’s team?

SH: That’s a good question. I think we’ve got a lot of great kids. Tyler Hill will be a guy coming back competing for that quarterback spot. He’s a great kid, and he was in a backup role when we won a four-overtime game, and there’s only been like nine of those in Wyoming’s history. I’ve never seen one or been a part, and we won a four-overtime game. There’s not been many of them in the country, so he’ll be back. He’s got an energy about him. Kaeden Wilcox is our only returning All-Stater at safety, and he’ll play some running back as well. Brenden Nelson, another senior, played center and defensive line. We’re probably going to move him to more of a tight end, running back, fullback set up, so he’s been developing into a really nice leader for us. A younger guy, who is going to be a junior, is Cody Crawford. He’s been a great leader of his teammates. We’ve got big skill guys and small skill guys, and Cody is a big guy. He’s really talented, so it’ll be fun to watch him as well.

DG: You mentioned Kaeden Wilcox. He’s quite the athlete having won an individual state wrestling championship, and he’s a pretty good baseball player, too. What stands out to you about him as a human being?

SH: All of us have our own stories because nobody’s life is perfect, and life has ups and downs. Kaeden’s gone through some of that stuff, and some of us sometimes, I know I’ve been my own worst enemy at times and been my toughest critic, and I think sometimes he’s done that to himself. It’s been so fun to watch him just mature, and he’s starting to come out where he’s going to be a tremendous leader for us. He’s starting to learn that, and a year in a young person’s life is a big deal. Me and you, it’s not so big, but when you’re a young person like that, it’s a real big deal. These past 12 months have really been amazing to watch him grow and develop. Then, as far as athletic skills, it’s more testament to play every sport you can, and that’s the key. Natrona’s got two kids in the NFL right now, and all of those guys are three-sport athletes. Taven [Bryan] played baseball in the summer, and Logan [Wilson] was a soccer player as a young kid. Play every sport you can, and work hard with your teammates. That’s really the recipe.

DG: I know I can’t wait for high school football. I’m sure you can’t wait for the fall to get going. Anything else you want to add about this fall season, or anything at all really?

SH: The thing about it’s always a nice journey, and it’s different every year. The makeup is different. The leaderships you’re trying to develop all that and pull it all together, so we’ve got our identity, but there are certain fundamentals and core values of attitude and effort and the way we’re gonna treat one another and the way we’re gonna work and fight for each other, ya know and learn all that I think it’s just so good, and I’m just really grateful to be a part of it. We’re just really excited, and we’ve had a tremendous summer. We’re going to be young in some areas. I think our linemen are going to be pretty young, but I think we’ve got a tremendous upside, and it’s going to be fun to watch us week after week keep getting better and better. That’s the name of the game.

DG: I really appreciate you coming in and sitting down with me. Talking a little bit about football, life and this upcoming season. Thank you so much, Coach.

SH: Thank you. It’s my honor, and it’s my pleasure.

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