Tyrus Ward had all the excuses in the book to not take the Brainerd football head coaching job, but Ward wanted nothing to do with excuses and everything to do with Brainerd football.

The Panthers were coming off a winless season, they haven't won more than three games since 2011 and numbers were down.

Ward a Brainerd alum instead approached the job with a sense of pride he hopes grows with the program.

"Seeing me as an alumni, seeing how much passion I have. I tell my coaches, what comes from the heart reaches the heart. They know my heart for this school and this program. That energy transfers to them, they're able to grab hold of that and keep moving on," said Ward.

Ward said his defense will be asked to and is capable of carrying the team early, "that defensive side, all 11 are doing a great job. Our offense will catch up around week three and four, but right now we'll look for our defense to carry us.

Brainerd opens the season at home on "family night" August 19 against Howard at 7:30pm.