Coach's Corner: Paul Brown 10/3
By Paul Brown Blue Valley assistant coach
Football like many things has changed over the years. It’s no longer your father’s game. It has evolved into a much more complex endeavor than just a handoff for three yards through the cloud of dust.
Today’s game is much more involved with players making decisions on the run, from option choices, to route changes and adjustments based on coverage reads after the ball is snapped. Hot routes to check defensive blitzes and on the defensive side the coaches have had to develop changes there try to stop the spread motion offenses of today.
Defensive players are forced to “play in space” much more now than ever before. Players work more to disguise coverages and blitzes. The game is faster paced with no-huddle offenses teams now run. Defenses need more signals and checks as a result.
These changes are not only happening at the college and pro levels. They always trickle down to the next levels too. Today high school football uses all of these tools and changes. We have even witnessed youth league teams running spread offenses.
Players are asked to learn more skills both physically and mentally if they are to succeed. For those reasons player development has become more important than it has ever been. The days of players only being involved from August to the end of the season are past. Coaches not only use weights and running, but they work with players mental development aspects too.
Summer camps and 7-on-7 are good additions, but underclass games are vital for the young players to develop the physical, mental and recognition skills required for them to be prepared to step up when they move to the varsity level.
At a time when school budgets are tight, some schools are eliminating coaching positions and underclass games. That is unfortunate as these are crucial to the development of players and with them the success of the school’s overall program.
At each underclass level it is important that the same basic skills are taught in progression so that players have a base of consistency and continuity. Even at our freshman level we run the same no-huddle offense so that players are used to it when they step up to the next levels. They may not be able to run all of the skill sets done at the varsity level, but they get things a piece at a time.
Our school district and community has been very supportive of underclass opportunities for our kids. I believe that has helped pay off in the post season successes we have enjoyed here. Last season we were fortunate enough to win the 5A State Title. On that team we had 4 or 5 starters that were on the B team when they were freshmen. They continued to work and learn at each level as they moved through the program. Without those opportunities they wouldn’t have had that wonderful State Championship experience and I would argue that winning that game might not have been possible. Without quality coaches and opportunities to develop at those underclass levels, varsity programs suffer.
Supporting the players and coaches at those levels, are crucial pieces of overall program development. Everyone pays attention to the varsity, but there are great games going on this fall and they aren’t all just on Friday nights.
North Kansas City Hornets
St. Joseph Benton Cardinals
Excelsior Springs Tigers
Van Horn Falcons
Crest Ridge Cougars
Platte County Pirates
Shawnee Mission West Vikings
Olathe Northwest Ravens
Olathe North Eagles
Pembroke Hill Raiders
Shawnee Mission North Indians
Liberty North Eagles