Many of you have watched or are watching the third season of the youth football “reality” show called Friday Night Tykes. Shot in San Antonio, Texas the show follows 4-5 youth teams in the competitive TYFA league. As many of you know I was on the show at the conclusion of Season One as a panelist along with NFL Coach Mike Martz and NFLer Clinton Portis. In season one we also interviewed all of the main characters and we met them when we went to Hollywood to shoot the show.
As we did in the past two seasons we will review each show in an attempt to help youth football coaches learn what they see on the show makes sense and doesn’t. Before we start let me say from my own experience of shooting the “Worst to First” show last year, NO ONE is perfect. When a camera crew is following you around 24×7 for every practice and every game, your smallest of mistakes are going to come out and may even be amplified. Friday Night Tykes is out to build an audience and what makes the show and is left on the cutting room floor is left to the producers. It is what it is, a one hour episode can’t cover all the good or bad things all of the coaches did that week.
So season three focuses on the Predators, Junior Rockets, Junior Broncos, Yoakum, Storm and Sea Hawks, all from TYFA and then the Outlaws in the new Snoop Dog league. I’m going to go through each team and my thoughts on the first two episodes in this post.
The Predators are coached by a former military man who suffers from PTSD. The show focuses on that problem and the coach’s personal life in his blended family. The Predators stress physicality and all the shots of the Predators practicing shows them with helmets on doing full contact work with lots of space in-between players. Not a big fan of what I see during practice- lots of hitting, little fit, form or detailed coaching going on.
It’s hard to judge where this team is at coaching wise, there wasn’t enough film. From what little I did see, the Predators are very big, athletic and very deep. They will be one of the better teams. I don’t respect the coaching staff at all based on what they did in game one. Up by 45-0 they still had starters in and to put the game into mercy rule and end it, their first team Running Back scored the final touchdown. The Head Coach was intent on getting to the 50 point threshold and ending the game. That makes so little sense. This is game one, why not get your backups a bunch of playing time and experience by keeping the score under the 50?? Getting teams in mercy rule so the game ends is all about the coach’s ego, it does nothing for his kids or the other team. That’s bush league and one of the things that’s wrong with youth football coaching. My predicton- thanks to a boatload of talent, they should be one of the top teams.
Junior Rockets- Tadion Lott
The Junior Rockets are a proud legacy program that feeds into San Antonio Judson a long time power in Texas High School football. Keith, the Athletic Director seems to be a very calm, smart guy with his head and heart in the right place. The Rockets don’t play a game, the show focuses on Tadion Lott, a very good Running Back, one of the top 2-3 in the entire league, who played last year for the Colts.
Tadion’s parents are actually shopping him around to several teams and weighing their “offers.” I kid you not, mom and dad take him to different teams practices and await the ogling and begging of teams that want Tadion’s services. There is no doubt in my mind they are trying to get a desperate coach to pony up money. Guaranteed if Tadion makes it to college, dad will be the reincarnation of Cam Newtons dad with his hand out. They are all about Tadion and nothing for the team, not a fan. GUARANTEED, whoever ends up with Tadion- he WILL LET YOU DOWN. He isn’t worth the drama from the parents, they could care less about the team. Hats off to Keith for saying he could care less if Tadion plays on their team or not. Let’s see if the Jr Rocket coaches feel the same way.
Charles Chavarria is still banished and in his absence the Jr Broncos slid from 3 wins to 1 win. They have some reasonable talent and descent size for a youth football team of that age. But the coaching is still very questionable. I doubt they have a very good season in spite of the talent he has in the backfield and the size. Charles is attending the Broncos games in an attempt to recruit kids for the team he will be coaching in 2017, awkward and silly. My prediction, they will probably be better than last year due to roster improvements. but doubtful they win more than 3 games.
Yoakum is the team I’m the most impressed with so far. They only practice ONE day a week. The other teams are practicing 5-6 days a week. Yoakum is the only team I see doing a lot of group and non-tackle to the group drills and team. Yes, they are big and they do have probably the best player in the league with big Tight End #74. But they are more than a one man team.
Yoakum seems to be having fun during practice and they open their first game with a fun for the kids Swinging Gate play. Their backfield action seems pretty tight and their kids get off the ball well. They must be investing their practice time in the right areas. What I DIDN’T like was the coaching staff woo wooing and on the field after every big play. Really? You’re undefeated in your league for last 3 years and you go bananas when up 35-0 over a really bad team? Very lame, that ego may end up biting them in the end. My prediction- I like what I see practice wise so far, that’s good, good talent, but flaws in the mindset of the coaching staff may cost them. They are in the top two-three.
The Storm are the Daddy ball team of TYFA. Justice Hurt, the head coach’s son is the QB of this new program. Dad runs his son left, right and then run pass option off those QB sweeps. That seems to be most of their offense. Their Offensive Line and tackling Fundamentals are poor. Even in their team event- they don’t know how to control their kids. All that time, effort and money are going to waste on a group of people that don’t understand the basics of how to manage a team or program.
They play the Broncos and get beat on the last play of the game in game one. In game two they get blown out by 40 to Yoakum. Their defensive linemen are all in 2 point stances and stand straight up- that “radar” defense NEVER works.
The head coach and his wife give NO CREDIT to Yoakum, even though the game was a blowout. They claim they got beat by one player, they didn’t, take #74 out and Yoakum wins by 30 instead of 40. Worse yet, they claim the Swinging Gate is illegal and “set the momentum for the game.” What a joke, Yoakum had a much better team. One play meant nothing and just shows how out of touch they both are. My prediction- the Storm win 1-2 games. They will fail miserably.
The Sea Hawks start out looking pretty good. Their head coach is a nice guy, seems pretty bright with good motivations. He works hard and seems to connect with the kids. However as the show proceeds, things start falling apart. All of his coaches rarely attend practice. He has 6 there one day and 2 the next. When they do get together they seem to be at odds on how to do things. They don’t handle disagreements very well at all. When I hear “it all about the kids” it rarely is. The more I hear it, the less I believe it. That is the case here as one coach who feels he is being “disrespected” gets in the face and threatens another coach in front of the kids. This coach hadn’t even attended a practice that week, how did he feel he could come in on game day and take charge?
The Head Coach should have sent him on his way and if the “disrespected” coach couldn’t respond like an adult, he should have been let go on the spot. Kids see everything and when coaches argue or even get physical with each other before a game or in practice it tears a team apart. The Sea Hawks looked awful, they had major problems with snaps and penalties and ended up losing to a team with less talent. This team has poor fundamentals, weak practices, is poorly managed and will implode. Their head man has great intentions but he doesn’t lead as a aggressively as he should AND he is a poor coach. My prediction- in spite of good talent, this team implodes, wins 2-3 games and loses a bunch of kids and players.
When you’re coaching youth football, it doesn’t matter how well intentioned you are or how many great youth football plays you have drawn up in the off-season. Can you coach YOUTH FOOTBALL? Can you manage a team, the coaches, parents and kids? If so you can have a great season, if not, then probably the implosions you are going to see. Tonight’s show is episode 3 so come back later this week for my take on it.