Jerry Olszewski enters his sixth season as the Augustana head football coach in 2018, and looks to continue building a winning program, which includes three straight winning seasons (2014-2016), including back-to-back eight-plus win seasons for the first time since 2008-10. The Vikings finished 4-7 in 2017, including wins over SMSU and division runner-up Bemidji St., and are confident they will get back to their winning ways this fall.
The 2018 season marks Olszewski’s 11th season as a collegiate head coach with a career record of 63-43, including 31-27 in five seasons at Augie. The Vikings named him the 21st head coach in school history on Dec. 12, 2012 after five seasons as the head coach at St. Olaf in Northfield, Minnesota.
Following a 4-7 season in Olszewski’s first year at Augustana, he put the program on the upward swing, leading the Vikings to a 6-5 record in 2014, followed by a 9-3 record and a playoff appearance in 2015. The 6-5 mark in 2014 marked Augustana’s first winning season since 2011 and followed that up with two more winning seasons, its longest stretch since 2008-11.
Historically, Olszewski’s squad has set the bar high on the offensive side of the field. Augustana set single season records in three of the last four seasons, starting in 2014 with 5,124 yards of total offense, before 5,527 yards of total offense in 2015 and raising the bar even higher with 5,617 yards in 2016.
Behind the arm of 2016 Harlon Hill Finalist and two-time NSIC Offensive Player of the Year, Trey Heid, Augustana set single season records for passing yards with 3,603 in 2015 before he raised it to 3,786 yards in 2016. The Vikings scored 65 total touchdowns in 2016, a new single season record after putting up 64 touchdowns in 2015.
2017 saw the Vikings land two individual All-Americans honors in linebacker Kirby Hora and offensive lineman Sam Lee. A D2Football.com All-American and CCA All-Super Region 4 selection, Hora led the Northern Sun Conference with 129 total tackles, including a 21-tackle effort against MSU Moorhead in the season opener on Sept. 2, which ties the school's single game record. Lee, who was named a D2Football.com All-American and an AFCA Second Team All-American, started all 11 games as a senior in 2017 on the offensive line, anchoring a Vikings offense that posted 1,674 rushing yards and 2,069 yards through the air.
In 2016, senior quarterback Trey Heid became just the third player in program history to earn First Team All-America honors from the American Football Coaches’ Association. Heid set single season records in passing yards (3,582) and passing touchdowns (41) in 2016 and became Augustana’s all-time leader in passing yards (11,476), passing touchdowns (105) and total offense yards (13,235). He also ended his career as the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference all-time leader in passing touchdowns (104) and total offense (13,019) in 43 career conference games.
Augustana had three players earn All-America honors in 2016. Senior wide receiver Matt Heller was named to three All-America teams, including the Associated Press Little All-America First Team. Heller set a single season record with 1,490 receiving yards while hauling in a single season record 21 touchdown catches, which both ranked second in the country. Bryson Hamilton was the third Viking to earn All-America honors in 2016. Hamilton earned All-NSIC First Team honors at defensive end after recording 44 tackles and a career-high 7.0 sacks while missing the last two games of the year due to injury.
Hamilton was also one of two Vikings to be awarded nationally for academics in 2016. Hamilton and Kirby Hora were named to the CoSIDA Academic All-America team after both earned CoSIDA Academic All-District honors.
The Vikings had 10 All-NSIC selections in 2016 and later had 24 players earn Academic All-NSIC honors, up four from the 2015 season, marking the most since Augustana joined the league in 2008.
Olszewski led Augustana to a 9-3 record and its fourth NCAA Playoff appearance in program history in 2015. The nine-win season marked just the second season with nine or more wins in Augustana’s 96-year football history. Olszewski’s squad finished with a 6-1 record in divisional play in 2015 which earned the Vikings a share of the NSIC South Division Championship.
After a breakout sophomore campaign in 2014, quarterback Trey Heid found another level in 2015 and was named the NSIC’s Offensive Player of the Year. Heid is the first Viking football student-athlete to be named Player of the Year by the NSIC. He ranked second in the NSIC in passing yards tossing for a single season record 3,493 yards to go along with a career-high 29 touchdown passes.
Augustana had 15 players earn All-NSIC South Division honors in 2015, including seven first team selections. Augustana also had four players earn Conference Commissioner’s Association All-Central Region honors. Charlie Hayes and Brian Long were both named to the CCA All-Central Region First Team.
Linebacker Brandon Mohr was selected to the All-NSIC South Division team for the third straight season in 2015, earning first team honors. He led the team with 97 tackles and finished his career with 331 tackles, the sixth-most all-time amongst NSIC players. Jamal Samaha tied the single season sack record with 8.0 on the season and finished the year with a team-high 10.5 tackles for loss. Samaha also tied a single game record at Augustana with 3.0 sacks against Southwest Minnesota State on Oct. 3, 2015.
The Viking football program also excelled in the classroom during the 2015 season with 20 players being named Academic All-NSIC.
Heid had a breakout sophomore campaign in 2014 finishing with 25 touchdown passes while throwing just four interceptions (fewest amongst all starting quarterbacks in the NSIC). Heid passed for 2,564 yards and tossed two or more touchdowns in eight of 10 games, including six against Wayne State on Oct. 19 which tied a single game record at Augustana. Heid also tied an NCAA record for touchdown passes in a quarter in that game, throwing five of his six touchdowns in the second quarter alone.
Augustana had nine players earn All-Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference honors, including first team linebacker Ben Skelly. Skelly recorded 90 tackles for the second straight season, finishing with 90, including a team-high 9.0 tackles for loss and three sacks. Skelly was invited to play in the National Bowl game in 2014, a showcase of seniors from around the nation representing Division II, Division III and NAIA schools. The Viking football program had 16 players named Academic All-NSIC in 2014.
Olszewski began his tenure at Augustana with a 41-28 win over MSU Moorhead in the season opener at Kirkeby-Over Stadium. The Vikings lost a heartbreaker in triple overtime in week two, just missing starting off the season 3-0 after shutting out Bemidji State at home on Sept. 21. Augustana posted a 4-2 record in home games during Olszewski’s first season while allowing just 14.2 points per game at Kirkeby-Over.
Six Viking players earned All-NSIC honors in Olszewski’s first season, including two first team selections in defensive lineman Jake Lee and linebacker Ben Skelly. Augustana also had 12 players earn Academic All-NSIC honors in 2013.
Prior to his appointment at St. Olaf, Olszewski was the defensive coordinator at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point for two seasons (2006-2008). He served two terms on the staff at Minnesota State-Mankato (1993-1997 and 1999-2002).
He was with the Green Bay Bombers of the Indoor Football League as offensive coordinator and special team’s coordinator for one season (1998-99), and served one year as defensive line coach at California Lutheran University (1997-98).
Away from coaching, Olszewski was the athletic director and dean of students for the Little Chute (Wisconsin) School District (1998-99), and chief executive officer of the Mankato Family YMCA (2002-2006).
Olszewski earned his bachelor’s degree at Wisconsin-Stevens Point (1993) and a master’s degree from Minnesota State-Mankato (1995).
He earned All-Wisconsin State University Conference honors as a defensive back at Stevens Point and led the league in interceptions (1990).
An active member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes for more than 20 years, Olszewski’s community service also includes Special Olympics, YMCA volunteer, church youth leader, MS Walk coordinator, and school district volunteer.
He and his wife, Deana, are the parents of one son Jett, and two daughters, Jersey and J.J.