Poehls, Simon named Middleton's co-head football coaches

MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Joe Poehls (left) and Tim Simon (right) were named Middleton's co-head football coaches on Sunday./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Their philosophies and principles are in lock step.

They’ve been friends for nearly two decades.

And both felt their first year splitting one of the top jobs in the state went extremely well.

So Joe Poehls and Tim Simon — who served as Middleton’s interim co-head football coaches in 2023 — will continue their partnership. Only now, the interim label is gone.

Simon and Poehls were two of six men that interviewed for the position on Feb. 2. When they emerged as the top choices, they told MHS administrators they’d like to continue as co-head coaches.

Middleton’s brass then signed off on that plan, meaning the program will have a pair of familiar faces in charge for the foreseeable future.

“Obviously I’m extremely excited,” Poehls said. “I love the program, love the community, love the school.

“I feel like last year was kind of like a stewardship, to protect the program and watch over it. It means so much to me to continue on with that role.”

Simon, who’s been part of the program for three decades, agreed with Poehls.

“It’s an honor and it’s a humbling responsibility,” said Simon, who celebrated a birthday on Monday. “I think we started to build a foundation last year and now that’s something we can continue to build upon.”

Poehls and Simon led Middleton to a 9-2 record in 2023. The Cardinals finished second in the Big Eight Conference at 6-1, defeated Madison Memorial in Level 1 of the WIAA Division 1 playoffs, then fell to Verona in Level 2.

When the season ended, both men knew they wanted to stay in the program, but needed some time to decide what role would be best.

Middleton athletic director Jamie Sims then posted the position in late December and 16 candidates applied. Sims and a large panel interviewed the six finalists last Friday.

Simon and Poehls interviewed separately, but expressed a strong desire to stay together as co-coaches. After a day of deliberation, Sims offered the job to Poehls and Simon on Sunday.

“We had a consensus among our interview panel that Joe and Tim both rose to the top,” Sims said. “Based on the way they performed in the interview and knowing the model they had, we felt the co-coaching duo was good for everyone.

“Another big thing for us was the foundation they laid last year. The coaching development from the two of them with our staff was something we knew would help our program take the next steps into the greatness on and off the field that Middleton athletics has been wanting.”

Simon and Poehls certainly brought a branch of consistency during one of the most tumultuous times in program history.

Former Middleton coach Jason Pertzborn resigned in Jan. 2023, in the wake of a bullying scandal inside the program.

Sims posted the position shortly thereafter and offered the job to McFarland High School defensive coordinator Brian Hellenbrand on March 24, 2023. Hellenbrand declined the job, though, and Sims re-opened the search.

Sims targeted Eau Claire Regis coach Bryant Brenner, who opted not to interview. Sims then turned to Poehls and Simon — two long-time members of the staff — to lead the program in 2023.

Now, that duo is excited to potentially lead MHS football for years to come.

“We are both very competitive by nature and there will be high expectations for everything we do,” Simon said. “Every year the goal is to make it to Camp Randall.

“But if all you focus on is winning, you’re missing the education process that goes with it. Winning is a byproduct of those things and our goal is for these kids to become the best version of themselves along the way.”

Poehls agreed.

“The thrill of the coaching position is making sure kids hit their potential,” Poehls said. “We want to keep helping kids fall in love with the process. Later in life, they’ll remember the Friday nights, but they’ll also remember the process that helped them reach their potential.”

Simon began teaching at MHS in 1991 and has been a key member of the program ever since. After more than a decade as an assistant coach, Simon replaced Kurt Gundlach as Middleton’s head coach in 2004.

During the next 14 seasons, Simon compiled a 111-39 record and led the Cardinals to the playoffs every year. Middleton reached the state semifinals in 2008, and the state quarterfinals in both 2010 and 2016, but had a somewhat disappointing 11-14 postseason record under Simon.

Simon and Pertzborn served as co-head coaches in 2018, then Pertzborn took over the program in 2019 and Simon moved back into an assistant’s role.

Poehls has been part of Middleton’s football coaching staff since 2009, serving a number of different roles in that time. He was the head freshman coach one season, worked with the varsity’s defensive line, then moved to the offensive line in 2017 where he’s remained since.

Poehls indicated he’ll continue to work primarily with both the offensive and defensive lines, while Zach Rast will be the offensive coordinator for a second straight season. Simon will be the defensive coordinator.

“Doing this with Joe is such a great thing,” Simon said. “Our philosophies are aligned so closely.

“We’ve been friends for a long, long time and I thought we grew together last year as coaches. I really feel this is the best way we can both enhance the program.”

Poehls agreed.

“I really believe it will give a lot of kids comfort knowing Tim and I are back,” Poehls said. “And for me, I appreciate the checks and balances that Tim and I have with each other.

“We both understand that going forward we always need to find common ground and we’ll always be motivated to do that in a respectful way. And I think that’s a great thing for the program.”

Rate this article: 
No votes yet