Playoffs: What one element does a team most need to contend for a state title?
Coach 1: A lot of luck. Avoid injuries, hope your star player's girlfriend doesn't dump him on a Friday, hope the flu that's going around school misses your team, etc. Belief and preparation are huge, of course, but you can't overlook good fortune.
Coach 2: Talent. You can't get there without great players
Coach 3: The team that can combine good chemistry with stud players wins state.
Coach 4: Talent. Teams that win state championships, especially in D1 when you get to the big-boy level, it's very rare when you see a team that makes it without at least one Division 1 (college) player. A great coach makes sure he gets the most out of the talent, but traditionally it helps when you have great players. A good coach takes advantage of it.
Playoffs: If you're looking at your team leaders, where do you draw the line between a player who's confident and a player who's cocky with an ego?
Coach 1: Confidence is about building up self and teammates. Arrogance typically shows itself when a player tears down others. Confidence is essential to team success. Arrogance is destructive.
Coach 2: Does he belittle others? If not, I'm good with the swag.
Coach 3: When they don't hustle at practice or try to sneak out of certain things. Sometimes you get a prima donna who may not hustle, may jog back to the huddle. Guy thinks, 'Coach won't say anything because I'm the best kid.' That affects team chemistry.
Coach 4: A leader must be confident, but if they are cocky, they will rarely get anyone to follow.
Week 9, 2013: Who's the best high-school football player you've seen in the state of Wisconsin?
Coach 1: The nose guard from Greendale, I believe (Eric) Brunner was his last name. A VERY dominant player.
Coach 2: Corey Cortez on defense (of West Allis Central). He was a one-man wrecking crew. Back to back final eight and he was 260 pounds, 5-10 and ran like a running back. If teams ran away from him, he was even more deadly because he was so fast. Offensively, it was Melvin Gordon. One out of every four times he touched the ball, this year he scored a touchdown.
Coach 3: Dom Todarello (of Arrowhead). Top 10 physically and probably had the best football mind in the state.
Coach 4: Eric Brunner, without question. He would be my first overall pick if given the opportunity to pick anyone I've ever seen in Wisconsin high school football.
Week 8, 2013: What changes, if any, have you made to your practice plans or coaching style over the years as a means of aligning with evolving medical data on concussions?
Coach 1: Minimal contact and very fast-paced, short practices. Less is more when you're talking about time on the field.
Coach 2: We have less full contact. The first day of contact also used to be tackling drills ("Burgers," "Bull in the Ring," etc.) but not so much anymore from anyone at any program.
Coach 3: When I first started coaching, we had four live-tackling stations, and we took kids to the ground. We have none now. The only time we take kids to the ground is tackle them into a pit. We've definitely adjusted the tackling sitaution.
Coach 4: Less hitting in practice. I believe we do a much better job of teaching "heads up" tackling and blocking.
Week 7, 2013: Last year, the NFL tossed around the idea of eliminating kickoffs as a means of cutting down injury. Would you consider that a valid option?
Coach 1: I would actually like to see it, and not just because I'm not a fan of special teams. At some point, we as a football community need to recognize that the game is under threat. Almost every major rule is a response to safety concerns (hashmarks, forward pass, seven men on the line at the snap, etc). I don't know if eliminating kickoffs would help with concussions, but it's one step we could take on the PR front to show we're at least thinking about ways to make the game safer.
Coach 2: I will say with the level of advancement of lifting and science of nutrition, even at the high school level, some of the hits make me think someone's going to get hurt. People are starting in seventh and eighth grade, and it seems like every high school is doing a lifting program. I can see why they're thinking about it. Everyone is just bigger and stronger.
Coach 3: I could see it down the road. The players' safety (if you remember that every player is someone's son) should be always be the biggest concern.
Coach 4: Sure. We get hurt way more on kickoffs than we gain on kickoff returns.
Week 6, 2013: With the advancements of sports video games, have you ever been able to apply any playcalling concepts from said games to actual football coaching?
Coach 1: I notice it with youth coaches. A lot of times they brag they've got 35 plays in their youth office and 25 are from John Madden (video games). I think guys get too many bad ideas. It all looks good on paper, but it matters what the kid is able to remember.
Coach 2: I'm not a video game guy and see no crossover between the two.
Coach 3: I don't see it, but then again, I haven't played video games in 12 years or so.
Coach 4: The last game I played was Madden 96. Is Barry Sanders a concept?
Week 5, 2013: Artificial field turf has become more and more prevalent; do you feel there remains a place for good old fashioned grass?
Coach 1: If you want to standarize outside elements and leave the game to the players on the field, turf is awesome. I don't think anything is really lost without grass.
Coach 2: Grass is terrible.
Coach 3: Yes, if your district can maintain it. Otherwise, turf is better than grass.
Coach 4: We don't have it and would love to have it. You can practice on it all the time, and we have a huge youth football organization and they're always wanting to get on our game field. In an ideal world, it would be great for every high school to have it.
Week 4 2013: Are you for or against names on the back of high school jerseys, and why?
Coach 1: Against it. Football is the one opportunity we have to suppress our individual ego for something bigger. Why the hell would we bring the individual back into it?
Coach 2: I'm OK either way. I do like the idea of playing for the name on the front of the jersey though.
Coach 3: I'm for it. I want as many kids out for football, and it's a pretty big deal on Friday to have jerseys in the hallway. If that can be a recruiting tool for me to get more kids out, I'm fine with that. We introduce ourselves as a team, and we come up with other ways to build the team aspect. I think it's a big deal Fridays in schools, and parents love it, too. Mom loves seeing her kid's name on the jersey.
Coach 4: For. Love it.
Week 3 2013: You've just scored a touchdown to pull within one point in the final minute of the game. Under what circumstances, if any, would you go for two?
Coach 1: It's a feel for the game. How has your defense and/or offense played leading up to overtime?
Coach 2: We did it last year. On the road, we go for two. I feel like you want to come up with a set rule, because if you're thinking about it too long on the sideline (you're in trouble). If we're on the road, we go for two. At home, we go for one.
Coach 3: If we are an underdog, we go for two.
Coach 4: If we're the underdog, maybe on the road. The only other thing would be just a feel from the players and knowing that they want to.
Week 2 2013: What current rule in high-school football would you like to see altered?
Coach 1: Defensive offsides on a field goal or PAT should not be a dead-ball foul. If the kick is made, let the offense have the points or the penalty. Drives me nuts to see a kick go through only to have the defense rewarded for jumping offsides.
Coach 2: This tackling/contact thing needs to be reconsidered. Full contact flag football is on the horizon.
Coach 3: They should eliminate blocking below the waist on the line of scrimmage. It's a safety/injury issue and could me the game safer.
Coach 4: I wish football started a week later. A lot of kids play baseball and there's really not enough of a break. There's a month of football before school starts, and that's tough on families for vacations, especially for families with multi-sport athletes.
Week 1 2013: What's the strangest complaint you've ever received from a parent or overzealous onlooker?
Coach 1: I've heard someone compare our team with what they see on TV on Saturdays and Sundays. "Why don't you run the back-shoulder fade? The Packers run it."
Coach 2: Maybe not the strangest, but something negative is when you do something extra like have a senior poster and somehow a name is omitted or you make a nice banquet program and someone accidentally doesn't get typed in ... those are the moments I see parents get more upset. That can be really draining because you tried to do something extra and the parent thinks it's done on purpose.
Coach 3: "We need to do more 'playonics' in the offseason." Not sure if he meant plyometrics or what, but we did plenty of those, anyway.
Do you feel recruiting has become a problem at the high school level?
Coach 1: I think recruiting in football is starting to follow basketball recruiting. I am very disappointed by the number of scholarships being handed out at such an early stage in an athlete’s career. Way too early in my opinion, and it is taking away from the senior that matures a little later and has a monster senior season. A lot of major schools are missing on these early recruits and a lot of good ones are slipping through the cracks and going to smaller schools. Why do you see so many upsets the last couple of years? That caliber of football is getting better athletes
Do you find it pleasant dealing with college coaches?
Coach 2: Yes, for the coaches who have done their homework and have a clue about who they're recruiting before they walk in the door.
Coach 3: We're super proud of their accomplishments and want to see them go to college, but the part that's difficult is the college coaches will come in unannounced and you're teaching class. The expectation is that you shouldn't be dealing with that during the school day, but that gets nutty sometimes because guys show up out of the blue and you can't talk to them (because you're teaching a class).
What's the best part about the job?
Coach 1: Being a difference maker in someone’s life. Watching boys come into the program and exiting it a better person because of your guidance and leadership.
Coach 2: Creating a relationship with kids and friendships, getting invited to weddings, getting invited to a bachelor party, just them coming back and visiting you or calling up asking for advice. I've got kids that I coached that are now coaches for me, and I've become good friends with a lot of former players.
Coach 3: I'd be lying if I didn't say winning.
What's the number one thing you hear from fans/parents/colleagues that drives you crazy when it comes to coaching football?
Coach 1: Though I have not heard this in many years, it still drives me crazy when I hear people say that a losing coach was outcoached (whether in high school, college, NFL, NBA, whatever). I loathe the uninformed.
Coach 2: Throw the ball.
Coach 3: I get so dialed into the game, but I usually have no idea how many fans are at the game. Maybe twice in my years I've heard a fan yell something at me.
Concussion prevention seems to be the No. 1 thing on the minds of football safety officials at all levels. Is enough being done at the high school level to prevent/care for concussions?
Coach 1: For us, for the last four or five years, we do helmet checks every day, constantly reviewing how to tackle correctly. Anytime our kids show any symptoms, they see trainers. I think every program is doing that now. It's been in the media so much and it's ingrained. In our youth football clinic, that's our second topic of the day and the most important one we have.
Coach 2: Yes, they are doing more than enough with the baseline testing and technology that is being invested into the helmets
Coach 3: Not surprisingly, most, if not all, levels of football are on the same page in treating the possibility of concussions with a heightened scrutiny. Though rules and equipment will forever differ among levels of play, at least we seem to be on the same page, at the same time, about concussions.
Who's the best in-state football player and best team you've seen in the past 10 years?
Coach 1: Player: Joe Thomas (Brookfield Central) and Melvin Gordon (Kenosha Bradford. Team: Marquette (2009) and Oshkosh North (2003).
Coach 2: Player: Pierre Rembert (Cudahy). Team: Racine Park (2005).
Coach 3: Player: Melvin Gordon (Kenosha Bradford). Team: Kenosha Bradford (2010) with best offense, Mukwonago (2004) with best defense.
What's the hardest part of the job?
Coach 1: Being away from family and not being able to be as thorough and prepared as I could be if I did not have to teach, as well.
Coach 2: Being away from my family.
Coach 3: Injuries. It's just gut wrenching when kids get hurt because you feel so horrible for the athlete, you feel horrible for the parents, you feel horrible for the team. As a coach, you gameplan certain things, and obviously that part of it is tough, too, when a kid gets hurt.
What's the best method of dealing with an over-eager parent who reaches out to you on a regular basis with unwanted feedback?
Coach 1: Be very direct in response; before that, try to address any such potential issues at a pre-season meeting. I tell parents that they are free to contact me about playing time, scheme, play calling, or our depth chart, but that in calling, they need to be ready to hear the raw truth, as I see it.
Coach 2: Follow the chain of command and if they want to meet with me, they have to bring in their son as well. Non-negotiable. I never talk playing time or play calling.
Coach 3: We have a parent meeting in May, and I explain to the parents they're young men; a year or two from now, they'll have a job or be in the military and can't talk to the boss or drill sergeant or professor like that. The best thing you can do is let your son handle problems. They're old to have their parents involved. Most parents do a great job of understanding that.
Do you feel there is a percentage of high-school athletes who take steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs? What percentage would you guess, and does the concern still need addressing?
Coach 1: Very small. I think pre-workout drinks are growing in popularity. Kids want to have success and will do anything to get a better workout.
Coach 2: I'd say no more than 5 percent of the nation's high school players take PED's. Since it's not nonexistent, of course it needs addressing.
Coach 3: I haven't felt like my athletes ever had taken steroids; I do get a sense that kids go to GNC and take supplements that are OK to have, but I think (PEDs are) more of a college, professional issue.
Your link to the biggest stories in the suburbs delivered Thursday mornings.
Enter your e-mail address above and click "Sign Up Now!" to begin receiving your e-mail newsletter Get the Newsletter!
- Nine starters returning for Wauwatosa co-op wrestling team
- Wauwatosa co-ed swim team grows in numbers
- Sophomore Celia Ripple named Tosa East's Most Valuable Swimmer
- Plaisted named boys volleyball state player of the year
- Slow start dooms Tosa West boys basketball team in Woodland opener
- Ederesinghe scores 18 in Tosa East boys basketball team's opener
- Larson earns Tosa West's Most Valuable swimmer honors
- Purifoy, Lewis, Veit named Tosa West football MVPs
- Niles named West boys volleyball MVP
- Football: Wauwatosa West last played for state football title in 1982