Experience the power of how I became a High School Coach in this lifestyle blog
I would like to share my experience as a football coach for a high school in Georgia. This lifestyle blog will be interesting for me to write and hopefully for my readers. I will talk about my history as a kid growing up in Florida playing football,moving to California to play high school football,coaching little league football when i moved back to Florida,being a fan playing video game football,fantasy football,what made me get into coaching again.
Well as a little boy i wasn't really into football. I was more into airplanes. My dad would sometime take me to airshows where we would watch the Blue Angels etc. That was one of the things that got me interested in Military Aircraft and I became fascinated with all Military Aircraft. Another thing that got me into Military Aircraft was this movie that came out called Top Gun. This one movie was the greatest recruiting propaganda of all time. Tom Cruise as the Ace Pilot who in the end gets the hot girl. What young boy would not be interested in flying Aircraft after that. Well i was i began to learn all the names of the different Aircraft and there specialties. The F-14 tomcat was my favorite because that is the one Tom Cruise flew. The Blue Angels flew the F-16 i liked those to.
I was a very creative adolescent where i would make Aircraft out of aluminum foil. I could also spot Aircraft flying overhead and name all of them. Even though i was into Aircraft heavily I still did the things kids like to do outside. I climbed trees,wrestled,raced,played basketball,and played football. Coming up where i am from kids like to be outside with nature. Staying in the house was punishment and a day of lonely dread. So getting in trouble was the worse cause you would be stuck inside all day while your friends were outside having a ball literally.The boys in my family were very competitive. We competed at everything. We competed wrestling each other,playing basketball,tackle football, etc. I started to really get into football from my uncles. I had a uncle who is a very big Dallas Cowboys fan. He had the team gear and always watched the games. I would watch the games with him.If there was a airshow that was on TV me and my uncle would get in a spat over who would watch what on TV. I wanted to watch the airshow and he wanted to watch them Dallas Cowboys. He won out and i had to watch the whole game mad. But in being mad, I learned something. I actually liked the game. I liked the action and big runs and hits. I liked the passion of the coaches and players. I liked the strategy,organization,and discipline.
In Florida playing football is a rite of passage.In this lifestyle blog, I will tell you I was already playing the game with no pads with my cousins and friends. We were already organizing ourselves and disciplining ourselves. We were already running plays and strategizing. We were already becoming young men and tough guys. The environment of North Florida with its humidity and heat would pay dividends for me in the future. I have never been a very big guy. I was a skinny kid with the heart of a lion. I had one of my best friends who was the most passionate football fan i knew growing up. He was a big Nebraska Corn husker fan. This guy was so fascinated with the game that he would keep stats of his rushing yards,passing,receiving in a notebook. This guy was also a fan of Dinosaurs. He love reading about those huge animals. He had books on them and there names. If he would have devoted himself he could have been a Coach or a Anthropologist. We had some great football battles back in the day. We played full speed tackle football with no pads. Running straight up the middle and throwing deep that is how we played. Another thing that helped me develop toughness was climbing trees playing tag with these same guys. We also wrestled alot. We would pretend we was the Junk Yard Dog or Rick Flair. We would practice putting each other in the figure four and sleeper hold on each other. We would have simulation wars by shooting BB guns at each other. I know you may say we were crazy but that is what develop me into the crazy mad dog football player i became. As i got older and stronger i became interested in playing organized football. I asked my Grandmother and Mother could i play but they said no. I became so upset and went outside to myself and started crying. I guess my Grandmother felt sorry and could not believe i was so interested in playing this sport that they gave in and let me play. I signed up for one of the funeral home football teams in the area. Back then funeral homes had football leagues. All the guys that were interested in playing football played little league football for these funeral home teams. Me and my cousin on my dad side signed up. We received our equipment and began practice. We were so excited that one day after football practice me and my cousin went home put our pads back on and went in the back yard and played 1 on 1 full speed tackle. We would throw the football simulating a kickoff and we would try to run it back and score while the other one would have to tackle you. We would then take the football from the spot we got tackled and try to run it in for a score while the other one would have to stop you. Imagine that two kids in the back yard playing 1 on 1 full pads and full speed tackle. This is how you become good and that is what we did. I was assigned to playing Defensive End. I don't know why maybe the coaches saw my height but this became my main position that i would stick with for the rest of my football career. I wasn't a very big kid but i had become tough as nails growing up with my friends. I liked playing Defensive End because it allowed me to use my long arms and athleticism to keep my opponent from my body. The coaches taught me that playing Defensive you have to have a great get off. A great get off is when you watch the football and as soon as it moves an inch you are on your way to making big plays. My coach also taught me that when playing Defensive End the angle you make should look like and upside down L. By taking this angle i could stop running backs from getting outside of me. As a Defensive End your job is to funnel everything back inside where there is help. The worst thing for a Defensive End is to let a play get outside of you. I liked that because I had to be smart and athletic at the same time. We played a couple of games and i got better and better. When i played pee wee football the Defensive Ends would stand up like outside linebackers. We did not do Individual drills we practice as a team mostly. We scrimmaged a lot and there is nothing like live action to learn how to play the game. The kids i play with were tough kids that was always outside growing up. In Florida it get so hot that you can literally see the heat. Add to the heat that 98% humidity and you have a recipe for developing great athletes..
I graduated from playing peewee football to playing midgets. Midgets are for the older and bigger kids. You have to be a certain weight to play midget football. Football becomes more advanced the next level you move up. You get more plays and more position specific coaching. We received more fundamental training. How to get in a stance,how to use your hands to defeat blocks,how to continue to make that upside down L,how to tackle. We did multiple drills for toughness. We did Monkey rolls,Oklahoma drill,conditioning drills,Bull in the ring,1 on 1 tackling drills. We also scrimmaged a lot. All this time during the summer before football season all the guys was still playing tackle football with no pads on with our friends. We would play guys from other parts of the city. Once we started putting on pads,football really became easy for me. Like i said before, I had already became toughened up from the way i grew up but now i put the pads together with that toughness. I began to excel at Defensive end. I also started playing the position of Tight end more. Tight end was fun but it wasn't as fun as Defensive end. Tight end we had to block and go out to catch the football every now and then. I like to hit people not be hit. I played it anyways because it was kind of fun to. I know some people ask "why do we play this dangerous game of football"?. Well my answer is because it is so fun. It is a really hard game to play but once you get it you get it. You also feel like a super star playing this game. You get recognized as being different kind of like a soldier. I liked the strategy of the game and teamwork. I also liked the discipline that the game provides. You can't be a great football player is you do not discipline yourself to get in shape,study your playbook,and play with great heart. In Florida football is king. Kids dream of being the next great player to come out of this great state. We know about the players from our state that have went on to become great players in College and the NFL. We dream of being that next player. The heat and humidity tends to create an athlete in Florida that is different from the rest of the United States. I call it a tropical brand of football. The heat and humidity creates athletes that are first of all in great shape,fast,and agile. Size,speed you are really just born with that. You can become stronger but at this level kids aren't really lifting weights. We do push ups,sit ups,6 inch leg lifts etc. One of my favorite 2 drills when i grew up was monkey rolls,and bull in the ring. Monkey rolls are when you have 3 players involved. All three players lay on there stomach in a horizontal alignment. The player in the middle is responsible for starting the drill. On the coaches whistle the player in the middle rolls like a barrel towards one of the other players. The other player that the player in the middle is rolling towards leaps and the rolls toward the third player in the sequence. The 3 players in the sequence then leaps over the player that is rolling towards him and back towards the first player that initiated the sequence. When done properly all the players look like barrels flying thru the air rolling back and forth. I think it is a good drill to prepare players for getting used to hitting the ground and getting back up. The other drill that we used was bull in the ring. This is one of the drills that separated the tough guys from the weaker ones. This drill separates the wheat from the chaff. If you want to find out who is a tough guy this drill will do it. Most places no longer do this drill or the monkey rolls but i think it helps determine who a tough guy is. The bull in ring drill is where you have one player in the middle i.e. the bull surrounded by the whole team. Each player in the circle surrounding the bull in the ring is given a number. The player in the middle has to remember where the potential runners are plus be instinctive as to which player will be running at him full speed. The bull has to take on the whole team one at a time as they run at him full speed. The park team i played for was called Messer Park in Tallahassee . The Tallahassee parks and recreation football league is very competitive. Some of the teams that play are very good. Messer was one of those teams. We had some very good athletes on that team. We won a lot of games and played for a park league championship. We lost but one of my friends put on a show i did not see coming. He was one of my best friends growing up. He was a receiver and that game he went off for a couple of long bombs for touchdowns.
The year 1987 was a pivotal one for me. I was just finishing up the 7th grade going to the 8th. I spent my summer working to help save some money up to buy my school clothes. I was also saving up money to help buy my bus ticket to Sacramento,California. My mother had just moved out there and we would be moving out there about the time school would be starting. I stayed with my Grandmother while working. A couple of months passed by and it was now time to take the Greyhound bus all the way out to the wild wild west. Me and my little brother boarded the Greyhound and began our move to Sacramento,California.It was a long exciting trip going thru all those cities. Went went thru New Orleans,Houston,San Antonio,Phoenix,Los Angeles,and finally arrived in Sacramento after 3 long days. My mother meet us at Sacramento Greyhound station. I am a long way from Florida. Everything looks different but there are some similarities to Florida. I see a lot of palm trees. I also see mountains and it is extremely hot. I am in a valley surrounded by mountains. The valley is called the San Joaquin Valley.
We arrive where i will be staying for the next 5 years. Within about a week i am getting enrolled at the high school that i will be attending. I will be attending a high school called Grant High School. While enrolling my mom boyfriend started asking about the sports program etc. The counselor explained that Grant High had an excellent football program. I got enrolled and would be attending classes soon. I started my classes and began school. I asked some of the guys around about what the football team was like at this school. They told me that Grant has always won for as long as they can remember. I remember seeing in the halls signs on the wall talking about the Pacers air force. The Pacers Air Force i thought to myself what is that? I would sure find out soon. I did not play my Freshman year. I joined the team my Sophomore year. My first practice was really well. The coaches were teaching us fundamental stuff. Stances,tackling,conditioning,catching,blocking. The fundamental stuff was more advanced than Pee Wee football. It was also a little more intense. I was already in really good shape cause i had been running the previous year. I had acclimated myself to the hot dry climate of Sacramento California. The climate hear was a little different than the climate of North Florida. Both places get hot. Both places have palm trees but the climate is different. California has a Mediterranean type of climate while Florida has a Subtropical type environment. Both climate tends to produce athletes that are fast. I found that out quickly. Some of the guys on my JV football were fast and athletic. I also was starting to see that High School was much more advanced and strategic. There were more plays. The plays were more exotic. On offense we ran what i would find out later was the West Coast Offense.
I see why there were signs on the wall in school talking about the Pacers Air Force. Because we threw the ball all over the place.Our Freshman,Junior Varsity,and Varsity teams all ran the same plays with a few differences. Once again on Defense I played Defensive End. The Defensive Ends was taught the same as they were taught in Florida. The Defensive Ends were still required to stand up. We still were required to make that upside down L.There was a difference though. In our Defense instead of only being responsible for the outside run and rushing the Quarterback, the Defensive End now had to take on the inside run in the D and C gaps. For those who do not know what i am talking about I will give a visual of the Gaps in football.Below you see gaps outside the TE with alphabetical letters labeled C and D. I had to defend both of these gaps now. In Peewee football they wanted to keep it simple where you only had to defend the D gap but now I am responsible for both gaps. This required you to take on the TE and control him and throw him to one side or the other. On Offense i was primarily a blocking TE. We threw to the TE some but i blocked a lot. Even though we ran a West Coast Offense we ran the ball very well.
One play that would become a staple of our offense at Grant was a play ran out of our split back set. It was called Red Right 28 quick pitch or Red Left 29 quick pitch. This one play out flanked opponents because of our speed. We had a counter play off of this play which looked just like quick pitch but came back to the opposite side. The quick pitch forced defenses to over shift to the side that they thought the quick pitch came from. When teams over shifted we ran the counter play back to the other side. I was athletic but the speed and power i witnessed playing football here told me i had to do something eventually to get bigger,stronger,and faster. Being from Florida, the players in California respected me. They knew about the great football teams from Florida. They would always talk about the Florida Gators,Florida State Seminoles,and the Miami Hurricanes. They witnessed how fast i was and my toughness. We played a full 10 games schedule. I would find out later how special that was once i started coaching football in Georgia. I recorded 5 sacks that year. We went 8-2. The next season i would be moving up to Varsity Football. Varsity Football would turn out to be completely different. For one the players were bigger,faster,and stronger. For two plays became more exotic and the coaches were very good at exploiting weakness. I wasn't yet completely committed to weight training but i would learn soon enough i had to. During the off season we had a passing league. The Varsity Offense was much more complex but yet simple. The passing game revolved around number series which tied to specific concepts. The formations were based on colors red,blue,green,purple etc. Very simple but to the defense it was complex.I liked our offense because during JV after our games the next day we would all go to the Varsity Football games and watch them destroy teams with our Red Right 28 quick pitch play. Then i watched the Varsity Offense destroy teams through the air with the Red Right 80 go play. I could not wait to play Varsity Football. I was very excited to go out there a run routes against older guys. I held my own in practice and was earning respect. I made several catches that caught the coaches attention. The Varsity head coach was a guy name Vulkavich and the Defensive Coordinator was a guy name Mike Alberghini. On Defense during passing league we ran a cover-3 and cover-1 defense. I played Outside Linebacker during passing league. I also played some Safety even though that is not the position i would play during the season. Playing Outside Linebacker and Safety allowed me to work on my speed and agility. It was also good for competition. I feel anytime you are able to compete it helps you as a player. This competition would help my effort later in my career. I also had a greater understanding of the Defense from this.I was just starting to improve at catching when a roadblock to my Tight End progress happened. My mother decided to move from our North gate location to Downtown Sacramento. I was really moving to a different district but I didn't want to go to another high school. The high school was Valley that i would be going to once I moved to Downtown Sacramento. I decided I would commute to Grant High School instead. I would catch the RT and route to a bus to get there. I couldn't go to passing league now because I had to keep my brother. I would still workout and run though. I would run from 14th street and D street all the way to Capital Park and back. I think the route was about 3 miles. It was hot so I was getting in great lean shape. About the time football season started I was in really good shape. Football season was now here and we are off to camp.We were tested on how many push ups we could do in a specific time, conditioning,speed,etc. We received our pads in about 3 days and it is now time to get used to the pads. We started practice with our pre warm up which included stretches and learning how we warm up. We then broke off into a fundamental period and toughness period. We did Oklahoma drills. Here is a little video of the Oklahoma Drill from the team that invented it. It is a man vs man drill.
liked this because to me this is a drill that tells who is tough. You line up with a guy in front of you and you take him on man on man. You either get your butt kicked or you kick but. I fared ok but like i said before I was starting to see the value in lifting weights because these guys were strong. From here we then did a drill where both guys lie on there back but one has the football. On the coaches whistle the runner and tackler both flip over get up as fast as they can and either the guy carrying the ball scores or get bought down. We then broke off into Offensive and Defensive groups. The Defensive Coaches worked us on fundamental things like how to get in a proper stance. When i tell you it gets hot in Sacramento then 110 degrees should paint a picture in your mind. Just like in Florida playing in this heat will give you an advantage as far as conditioning goes over other states that isn't as hot. Most of my time through the first week of practice was spent on Defense. I soon learned that I may not be getting a lot of playing time my junior year because there were returning starters at Defensive End that were really good. Both of these guys were track athletes. They both ran the hurdles. Both of these guys played Tight End also so I was behind both of them on the Offense also. I was really aggressive though and the coaches found a way to get me on the field at Offensive Right Tackle. Like i was saying earlier our identity Offensively was built around our Red Right 28/29 quick pitch play out of spit backs. We would pull the tackles to block the Corners and the Wide Receivers would crack back on the Safeties. We scored many touchdowns off of that one play because of our speed. In the passing game we threw deep outs,quick outs,comebacks,go routes,slants,curls,posts,and flat routes. Since i wasn't going to start at Tight End or Defensive End, the coaches tried me a right Offensive Tackle. I excelled at pulling because of my speed. We renamed our quick play to super quick pitch to take advantage of our speed. We cheated our running backs a little wider so to get them to the edge faster. Straight ahead run blocking was a little bit tougher. I did not like it as much. I enjoyed pass blocking it was easier that run blocking. My moms boyfriend thought i was playing out of position because he felt i was more of a receiver type. What I did not know was that the coaches had a plan for me my senior year. I would become an integral part of a package known as the "hogs". With me playing Offensive Tackle I was refining my blocking skills for the position of Tight End. Tight Ends have to be able to block and starting at Offensive Tackle helped me to block. Our biggest rival was this team called Nevada Union. They were from Grass Valley,California. They ran an Offense called the Wing T which was a Offense based on deception. Our Offense was also deceptive but it was based more on outflanking teams. Once we outflanked you then we come inside on you. The Wing T did the same thing but with more fakes. We played them at home our senior year and it was a battle. The game went back and forth but they had no answer for out pitch play and our passing game. Our defense also was swarming and shut them down. I did a really good job pulling on the pitch play and pass blocking. My confidence level was rising. We made the playoffs and won our game. We went to the second round to face Turlock. Turlock was pretty good and they beat us. I decided in the off season to run track and wrestle. I was pretty good at both but i truly like track. I liked the competition and raw explosiveness of the sport. I was asked to play basketball but i did not get the same explosiveness and aggressiveness out of that sport plus I had to walk a long ways after practice to get home through a dangerous neighborhood. In track and wrestling I had one of the coaches that coached football to take me home.This coach also coached wrestling. Wrestling helped me with my tackling. Track helped me with speed. I only wished I would have ran track and wrestled from my freshman season on. Just in the two years I did these sports my game improved drastically. I became faster and in better shape and I tackled better. My senior football season I was in line for both starting Tight End and Defensive End. I was in much better shape and stronger. I was lifting weights. I started lifting weights later in the process. I really starting lifting in my junior year. I saw my body start to transform and I was getting bigger. We had a weight lifting class that the Defensive Coordinator was teaching. I stayed in there as much as possible. I missed passing league again but when the season started I was ready. I demonstrated to the coaches how much stronger i had became. My aggressiveness in the Oklahoma drill got my coaches attention. I was kicking players but from the Defensive side. I earned the staring Defensive End position. I was so happy because I had put in a lot of work. Track and Field really started to pay off even more than weight lifting. The teams in the Sacramento area had a lot of speed and i need to keep up. None of the teams though had more speed that we did though. Our whole defensive line was on the track team. During games we were swarming and gang tackling. We had a road block vs this team called Casa Roble. We truly underestimated them. I was tired that game because I had stayed up over my buddy house pretty late and we had to get up early on a Saturday to play. I was at the warm up like man I am tired. Even though I was tired I still had my best one of my game. I was all over the Quarterback. I had to be double teamed on almost every play. I felt like I was Lawrence Taylor. I got multiple helmet stickers for that game and I was captain for the next game. We awarded players Team Captain based on their performances from the previous game. I took a lot of pride in being Team Captain. I was also really good at special teams. I felt like I was unstoppable because of my speed and quickness. I was also a very tough guy who like contact. Anyone got in my way was in trouble. As the season wore on I was utilized in the Hog package even more. I would hear them say Hogs and we would bring in our big boys. It was time to grind. Along with our quick pitch play we also ran a power play. The power play was were everyone on play side would block down and the backside guard would pull and kickout. The full back would lead through followed by the running back. Playing Offensive Tackle really helped me now because I could run block as well as pass block and catch. We continued to win but that Casa Roble loss would come back to hunts us. We were teetering on making the playoffs and so was our biggest rival Nevada Union. The winner would make it in and the losers would go home. To make it even worse we had to travel to there home which was up in the mountains about 1 hour and 5 minutes away
from Sacramento. It was also snowing when we got there. This was my first time ever seeing snow. I was hype for this game and so were my teammates. The game started out like all of our games against them in a battle. We would score then they would score. Back and forth. They eventually won the game and we were knocked out of the playoffs. During track season I tore my Anterior cruciate ligament. I would be on cruches for the rest of the school year. I would graduate early and move back to Tallahassee Florida.
I am now back home in beautiful Tallahassee Florida the capital city. I will be staying with my
Grandparents in Mt Pleasant,Florida about 20 miles outside of Tallahassee. I would began college with dual enrollment at Famu and Tallahassee Community College. I would spend my first year hoping my knee would heal so I could walk onto the football team. I also began to have a inspirational desire to coach. I thought about coaching at the little league football team that made me the football player I became. While attending college I started coaching the little league football team I came up through the ranks with Messer Park. I coached the wide receivers. I taught fundamentals with the kids. I taught them how to get in a proper wide receiver stance. I taught them how to run routes and catch the football properly. It immediately started paying off. One of the things young wide receivers do when running routes is they start looking for the football to soon. I taught the kids to continue to run fast and then look for the football after certain yards. The Head Coach was a fan of running the football but after he recognized my talent with the receivers he started throwing it more. The kids saw how they were improving and started buying in even more. It was a good first start for my coaching career. I got multiple awards at the end of the season for coaching. I coached with them another year under a different set of coaches. This was really different. These coaches were big Florida State Seminole fans and thought they could run Florida State Offense with these kids. It did not work. They didn't simplify the Offense enough for the kids. They gave it there best shot though. We were in Shotgun every play trying to throw it every down. One thing about coaching is that coaches can have an idea about what they want to do and no matter if it works or not will not change. Coaches are very egotistical so it not surprising that we tend to stick to what we believe. Even at the lower levels of coaching I remember when i was playing as a little kid I saw two coaches fight each other. Coaches and players are competitive people so naturally you will have that.
While coming of age in Sacramento California there were there video games systems that were released called the Nintendo and Genesis. On Nintendo there was a video game football game that came out called Tecmo Bowl. It was the first realistic video game that came ever. The video game football games before that were not very realistic and only had x and o's. You had to role a ball around to move the players not very fun at all. When Tecmo Bowl came out it changed the game. Tecmo Bowl was the first football video game where the players looked like football players. They had real professional teams and real professional attributes like speed and power. It felt real. My favorite team from when I was a little kid was the Miami Dolphins. Tecmo Bowl had them on this game game. Dan Marino had an arm and Mark Duper and Mark Clayton was going to get it. I played my best friend everyday during the summer. He played with the San Francisco Forty Niners. Other teams that were good on the game was Cleveland Browns. The Cleveland Browns had Kevin Mack. Kevin Mack was a monster and would truck and toss defenders around on Tecmo Bowl. Other memorable teams on the game were The Oakland Raiders. The Oakland Raiders had Marcus Allen. Marcus Allen was fast and would take it to the house. The Raiders also had Bo Jackson who had speed and power. I played with them a lot. I would run some of the plays we were running in high school against my buddy.
A few years later another video game system came out called the Sega Genesis. It was much more advanced than the Nintendo. Another football game came out that would totally revolutionize the video game football market for years to come. That game was John Madden Football. John Madden gave gamer a totally different view of football. Instead of the side view that Tecmo bowl put it users, Madden put the gamer behind the offense. A subtle change that that has stuck with the football gamer market to this day. The playbook was also more realistic. Players had more attributes like catch ratings,block ratings,throwing power,throwing accuracy,speed,acceleration,tackling,block shedding,man coverage,zone coverage. The orginal madden had a passing window where you could see the receiver and press the corresponding button to throw to that guy.
It was very addicting because it was really realistic. You had a way of picking different package of players. You would see players running in and out of the huddle. It was revolutionary in the way it presented the game of football to gamers. There was even a dynasty mode where you could build your team through the draft. The players also looked more like football players and were buffed. I would play my friends for hours round robbing style. Once gain I played with my favorite team the Miami Dolphins.There was also another football game that was popular and revolutionizing the gamer market.Once I moved back to Tallahassee Florida there was another game that hit the market that changed the game also.That game was Bill Walsh College Football. It bought the college game into the video game market. It utilized the same view point as Madden but was more exciting just like college football in real life.While with my college friends between classes we would play this game.I enjoyed the competition. These game would continue to improve and become more realistic as time went by with technological improvements.
I would eventually move to Atlanta,Georgia. I would finish college here and start a decent career in Information Technology. I worked for this company called First Data for 10 years before reality set in. I thought I would work the rest of my life in Technology retire etc. I didn't take into account that all things change. The economy went into recession in 2008. Our Data Center closed and we were laid off with severance pay. I was unemployed looking for employment.
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