The Green Bay Packers have announced that Jim Bylsma of Cambria-Friesland High School in Cambria, Wis., has been named the Packers High School Coach of the Week. The program is presented by Buffalo Wild Wings.
In his 40th year as head coach, Bylsma and the Hilltoppers recently concluded their season in Round 3 of the WIAA Division 7 Playoffs. Heading into that matchup with Shiocton High School, Cambria-Friesland had an undefeated 12-0 record and entered their playoff region as a No. 1 seed. While Bylsma and his team would have liked the season to end with them holding up a State Championship trophy, the success they had this year was unexpected by many, considering they are by far the smallest school playing 11-man football in the state, with an enrollment of only 97 students.
“Prior to the season, each player was checked out to wear underneath his shoulder pads a t-shirt that on the front said, ‘Outnumbered But Never Outworked’ and on the back it said, ‘You Can Never Know How Strong You Can Be Until Being Strong Is Your Only Choice,’” said Bylsma. “Our players accepted that challenge and accepted the reality of the fact that it was going to be done. It was up to that individual group of 33 young men. They really bought into our philosophy this year, which was that we had to run a fairly conservative offensive plan that ate up the clock but still moved the chains, and also bought into the fact that we needed a bend but don’t break defense. That fact that we could grind out so much time and score at the end of the ballgame speaks testaments to the young men this year.”
Bylsma grew up and graduated from Randolph High School in Randolph, Wis., where he participated in football and basketball. As a member of the Rockets, he played on the offensive line under Wisconsin Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame member, Coach John Kuenn. Following high school, Bylsma went on to graduate from UW-River Falls in 1976. Bylsma’s coaching career began as an assistant coach for Princeton High School in 1976. From 1977 until 1980, Bylsma was an assistant coach at Fennimore High School. In 1981, Bylsma joined the coaching staff at Cambria-Friesland as an assistant. The following year he was named head coach of the Hilltoppers.
Bylsma credits his staff and players for the Coach of the Week award.
“I think it is more of a testament to the young men that are playing for us, but especially to the coaching staff that we have at Cambria,” said Bylsma. “Even though we’re such a tiny school, a couple of my coaches have been with me for a long time. My defensive coordinator, Jim Knudson, has been with the program for 33 years, and then of the other gentleman on the staff, all of them are former players of mine.”
Bylsma and his staff oversee a program of 33 players. His assistant staff includes Sawyer Quade, Jamie Link, Jim Knudson, Scott Wotruba, Stuart Quade and Pedro Zavala. Blysma is also a retired teacher of 34 years. Bylsma and his wife, Pam, have two daughters, Jamie and Jodi, one son, Jon, and three grandchildren. His oldest grandchild, Jason, was a junior on the football team this season.
About the Green Bay Packers High School Coach of the Week Program:
The Packers will recognize one outstanding high school coach as their ‘Coach of the Week’ winner during the 2022 high school football season. Winners are awarded several items and privileges, including a $2,000 donation to the school’s football program from the Green Bay Packers, Buffalo Wild Wings and the NFL Foundation, as well as recognition of the award on Packers.com, Wissports.net and Wifca.org. Nominations for Coach of the Week should be submitted by 10 a.m. every Monday to Ryan Fencl, Football Outreach Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include the nominee’s name, address, school, phone number and reason he/she is deserving of the award.