This is the last episode of the season, so like in the previous weeks I’m reviewing this one independently of the others. This show focused on the Outlaws State Championship run for the most part. Next week I will appearing on a panel on the show along with Mike Martz, Clinton Portis, Brandon Jacobs, some NFL Trainers and Physicians.
As always let’s take this team by team. The Jr Broncos had a short segment that centered around their banquet and trophies. Charles relented to pressure from the team mom and parents and got small participation trophies for the kids for making it to the end of the season. I’ve been one of Charles biggest critics, but it’s obvious he cares about his kids and the kids care about him. It’s a real shame he is such a poor coach and has gotten so little guidance from others.
The Colts get a few minutes of face time as their coaching staff complains about their parental support and interference. Unfortunately they didn’t do a good job of establishing boundaries and enforcing them with their parents, almost always a recipe for disaster. The out of bounds parent problems don’t surprise me, since the coaching staff shows so little discipline in their own actions. Don’t get me wrong, they do some very positive things as well, but with a few changes their program could be on top.
The Predators don’t get any camera time with the exception of Coach Brad showing up for the Outlaw playoff game in support of the league, which is great. The Rockets coach is shown for just a brief moment, planning for his 2014 season.
This week it’s all about the Outlaws and their road to a youth football championship. Again it’s tough to criticize these guys, they have blown everyone out this season. In game one versus a team from the Valley, they win handily after a bit of an early struggle. It’s “cold” and the kids seem to be a bit overly concerned with the cold. The coaches tell them not to worry about it, meanwhile almost all the coaches are bundled up like they are on a trek to the North Pole. Want the kids not to worry about the cold? Look like it doesn’t bother you. I know a coach here who wears shorts and a long sleeve sweatshirt, no matter how cold it is. Whatever the weather it is, you sell it to your kids that it’s to their advantage, even if it isn’t. Perception is everything when it comes to weather.
The Outlaws played Outlaw football and out physicaled their Valley opponent with their inside Double Tight End Power I Attack. The execution looked good in the few plays we got to see and as always the Outlaw defense pursued and gang tackled well. The Outlaw team always plays excellent special teams as well, their onside and bloop kicks and coverage are outstanding.
Leading up to the championship game there is a bit of a problem. Head Coach Fred wants everyone to travel to the game together and for the kids to do an activity the night before the game at the hotel. His goal is a noble one; keep the kids together so they can bond, make sure they eat, sleep and are hydrated well. Coach Coley and his family have other plans, supporting their local High School at Reliant Stadium on the same night. Coach Fred says there will be repercussions for violating his rules, but in the end he ends up starting his star Quarterback, Coach Coley’s son.
As a coach who has traveled quite a bit, I see both sides of this. We travel overnight almost every year, sometimes as long as 10 hours away. What seems to work well is to have everyone stay at the same hotel and have several team activities planned. You have to remember, it is the parents footing the bill for the travel, so if they want to do an activity as a family that doesn’t involve the team, you have to let them. On the other hand the Head Coach makes the rules. Even if he is wrong, as long as the kids aren’t being put in harms way, you have to abide by what the Head Coach says. You can either suffer the consequences or vote with your feet at the end of the season. The player should have been benched for the first half, the Head Coach should have followed through on his standard, even though I disagree with that standard.
As a lead up to the big game against the Cougar team from the Houston area, we got a quick peek of this team. They are big and coached by three former NFL players who are very proud of their playing pedigrees. Like the Outlaws, the Cougars are a tight split, run between the tackles youth football team who can throw when they need to.
The game started off with an excellent onside kick by the Cougars that was recovered by the Outlaws, good special teams play is the hallmark of championship caliber teams. However the difference in the game was the offensive line play. As the game progresses the Outlaw team was getting off the ball quicker and being more physical. The Cougar line was a step late nearly every time and playing high. The left side of the Cougar line was often times coming out of their stances after all the other players had taken 2 steps. The Outlaw team was helped by a bevy of very capable backs who run hard and have very good body control with Coley, Miller and Juju.
The Cougars made a number of mistakes, the first was their coaching staff being all hyped up prior to the game. The kids understand it’s a big game, they didn’t get this far because they didn’t care. The head coach even grabbed the facemask of one of his players and violently yanked it forward, while raising his voice to the rafters. You can NEVER do that, under any circumstances, facemask yanking is a cardinal sin. The Cougars also went to just a 5 man box when the Outlaws were on the 1 yard line. I get that the Outlaws like to boot with Coley, but to have 5 in the box and players outside the Tight End and another player at Safety depth made no sense. Even when the Outlaws were gouging them inside, the Cougars didn’t have a down player in the B or C gaps. When the Outlaws went to their split backfield with a Wing, it was always a sweep with the Wing away from the Wing side. Now we haven’t been able to see an entire game on film, but that was something that has been very consistent from the Outlaws scheme wise. When a team is that predictable, you can make them pay, the Cougars didn’t do that.
Again, you can’t get too critical of the Outlaws. They were the better team, they were more physical they blocked, pursued, tackled and ran better than the Cougars. They executed a near perfect 2 minute drill to close out the half and break the spirit of the Cougars. The Outlaw offensive line blocks pretty well most plays, but a lot of their players false step, a common problem with kids who start in a 2 point stance. Their first touchdown was negated due to a celebration call, which I’m never a fan of. That isn’t something we’ve seen from this team and the coach was upset with the player as he should have been.
The season ended on a joyful note for the Outlaws, while others were busy planning their strategy for next season. We got to see some very poor coaching and we saw some good moments as well. Hopefully this was an eye opener for some and for all of us, lessons learned so we can all be better youth football coaches next season.
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