Taking a Peek at Next Years Teams
Many coaches like to know what kinds of kids I have to work with so they can make comparisons with what they have. My guess is our experiences are fairly similar.
While running our FASST program it’s hard not to take a peek at a few of the new players coming in. Like most of you, looking at the new players is like opening a box of chocolates, you are always hopeful, but you never know what you are going to get. When your teams have huge gaps to fill, those hopeful thoughts can almost be thoughts of desperation.
As many of you know I’m head coaching 3 teams this season for a variety of reasons, an age 7-9 team, an age 10-11 team and an age 12-13 team. Every team has it’s own unique strengths, weaknesses, personality and needs. All three of these teams are incredibly different from one another.
Age 7-9 Team
Here is how next years squads stack up:
The age 7-9 team finished 7-2 but really came on strong at the end, winning 7 games in a row. At seasons end we were averaging about 30 points a game and no one wanted to play us. This was the youngest team in the league and all but 3 of our players were brand new to youth football. All of the players on this team signed up to play again but a few aged out to the next age bracket.
We have our entire starting offensive line back and all are “stripers” meaning they are over the running back weight. This is a very unusual group and we even have 2 new kids that are ‘striper” weight as well. We are almost always one of the smallest teams in the league, so this will be a welcome change. We have our starting Wingback back, but will move him to “Quarterback” as he did get a few snaps at that position last season and can handle the position. All of our other starting running backs moved up, so that will be our challenge. About 70% of our touchdown scoring moved up to the next age group. On defense we lost one starting defensive end, one starting linebacker and one starting corner. While this sounds like a lot, it isn’t anything compared to what we had to work with last year with this group, they were almost all rookies. We have a real nice coaching staff with this group including 3 returners. This team should be very solid and has potential to be one of the better offensive lines I’ve coached. We will need more out of our right tight end on this team or find a replacement. If we find a descent blocking back and an average wingback and fullback we should be able to average about 40 points a game with this group.
Age 10-11 Team
The age 10-11 team had every player but 1 sign back up to play again. This team went 9-1 last season, “mercy ruling” 9 opponents. Unfortunately, most of the starters from this team are moving up to the age 12-13 team. There are just 6 players back on this team and only 2 were starters. With the younger players moving up, we can fill a number of holes, but we will be by far the smallest team in the league with just 1 “striped” player. All of our backs are under 90 pounds and we will have at least 10 rookie players on this team. Over 90% of the touchdowns scored on this team moved up to the older group. The coaching staff is good but thin, just 1 coach with lots of experience, a 2nd year coach, a rookie coach and me. Needless to say this will be one of my biggest challenges in my 15 years of coaching youth football. We are small and slow and will have little experience in an age bracket full of teams that will be much bigger, better and more experienced than us. I love these kinds of challenges and look forward to coaching these kids probably more than the other 2 teams. My guess my very best effort can at best yield a .500 season.
Age 12-13 Team
The age 12-13 team will have descent experience, with just 5 rookie players on it. We again will be the smallest team in the league with just 1 “striped” player. This group has lost just 2 games in the last 4 years so there is nice continuity and experience but no size. We will be the youngest team in the league at this age group, with just 6 kids that are 13 years old. For those of you that have coached youth football, you know how important it is to have good numbers at the top age in the age bracket. However these kids have consistently put up 35 points per game, so our expectations are high. We need some tight ends, an offensive lineman, a safety and some descent backup running backs. The coaching staff on this team is made up entirely of coaches that have coached with us for the last 3-4 years, a nice group. While we will be the youngest and smallest team in this age bracket, and have a few holes to fill, our expectations will be high for this team.
Why Share This Information?
Why am I sharing this with you? I think it’s important for you to know I still am a hands on youth football coach. What I’m imparting to you I’m field testing with my own teams. What I’m suggesting to you is working now in 2008 it isn’t something that worked back in 1992. I remember back in 2000 when I took my break from coaching to grow my fledgling youth football program. I took that time to study the best and worst programs in the country to come up with a system that would allow our teams to compete, relatively talent independent. During that time, I was often asking my coaches to do things that were not doable. Because I wasn’t in the trenches I was a bit out of touch, even though I was at all the practices and games. I can assure you that isn’t the case now, I’m having many of the same thoughts and concerns you are feeling right now and anxiously looking at what’s in my box of choclates.