BY BOB SAN
Bridge Tusler still remembers the conversation he had with Osseo football coach Derrin Lamker in his sophomore season.
“He was saying, ‘Hey, you are probably going to go against guys 50 pounds heavier. Can you do it?’” Tusler said. “I looked at him and I didn’t know what I was committed to but I said I could do it. He helped me there, with the confidence and experience from the get-go. That showed he put trust in me.”
Lamker’s trust in Tusler has not been misplaced for in the past three seasons, Tusler has turned himself into one of the best all-around players in the state. He played just about every down in close games both ways as a fullback and defensive back and returned punts and kicks. His inspired play led a very inexperienced Osseo team to an 8-2 season.
In the past weeks, Tusler was named the Conference Special Team MVP for the second season in a row, the Conference Offensive MVP and Metro Player of the Year.
“I am very surprised at all the awards I have received,” Tusler said. “Our coaching staff put me in situations like that, they put me everywhere. They and my teammates have a lot of trust in me. It’s a great honor, especially the Metro Player of the Year.”
Tusler endears himself to friends and foes not only for his athletic talents, but also for his humbleness and unselfish, team oriented attitude.
“Bridge not only is one of the best players I have ever coached, he is one of the best leaders and a great person,” Lamker said. “He is also a close personal friend of mine.”
Because of his dominant stats and performances, many said Osseo is a one-man team. Tusler disagrees.
“No, not at all. We are a big family,” Tusler said. “You take me out of the picture they will still succeed, probably did exactly the same thing they did this year. I could not do half the things I did without my teammates. After practice, quarterback Garrison Gillard and I ran routes and I got in conditioning. I felt I wasn’t conditioned very well so I needed him to help me out. You have Troy Kray, who is our linebacker and also our running back too. That took a load off me on the offensive side. On defense, I know I had him, Lamar Wallace, Rakeem Felder. And our offensive line. I don’t think I’ve seen a group of guys loves each other as much as our line did. And our coaching staff. All that support definitely helped me.”
Tusler thanks coach Lamker for helping him develop as a player and person.
“Coach Lamker has done a phenomenal job and he has helped me since day one,” Tusler said. “Our relationship grew over the years and I just wanted to play well, make him happy and not let him down. It’s almost like he is a father figure on the football field and off the football field.”
Tusler is a threat not only as a running back and a receiver, but also as a kick returner. On every punt or kickoff, Osseo fans seemed to anticipate good things would happen and very often Tusler created exciting returns that sparked his team. Tusler credits coach Jason Moden for his and Osseo’s strong special team play.
“I have never seen our special team coach not think about special team,” Tusler said of Moden. “I have him for a teacher and right after he is done teaching, he will sit there through his break or between classes, he will go there and look at special team. He will call me over and we will talk about things. Special team is very overlooked in high school football, but at Osseo I can tell you it’s not overlooked.”
With the high school football career behind him, Tusler will concentrate on helping the Osseo basketball team defend its state title. And he will decide on his athletic future in college.
“I still have to make that decision. It depends on what comes around,” he said.