Area high school football coaches look for new ideas at clinic

College coaches come home to talk at clinic

AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Quad County Coach Association, in cooperation with the Mahoning Valley and Trumbull County Coaches Association, hosted it’s 3rd annual coaches clinic at the Hollywood Racino in Austintown Friday night and Saturday morning. 130 coaches participated on Friday while 140 attended the Saturday session.

“It’s a way for area coaches to get together and talk and understand the importance of football,” West Branch’s D.J. Dota remarked. Dota, along with Springfield’s Sean Guerriero and Columbiana’s Bob Spaite organized the event. “The speakers we have hopefully provide good fundamentals for both younger coaches or coaches like me who have been doing this for 26 years now. I’m still learning.”

The Friday night event featured Bradly Collins, the strength and conditioning coach at the University of Cincinnati, Ron Crook the offensive line coach at Cincinnati, and Richard McNutt the defensive backs coach at YSU. Mark Porter from served as the master of ceremonies.

Collins admitted that the number one most serious injury in football today is concussions. He stressed to the coaches that they need to train the neck, building up muscle mass in the neck to help distribute the force of impact through the muscles instead of on the head and brain. He also added that proper hydration will help in concussion prevention.

Crook talked about the fundamentals of offensive line play by using leverage and finishing drills, while McNutt talked about how different players learn in different ways. McNutt uses paper, video, and text as he knows his players are on their cell phones in today’s world.

Former Springfield and Salem high school football coach Doug Phillips made a special appearance as he talked about his decision to take the position as special teams and tight ends coach with the University of Cincinnati. He said it was Bearcats new head football coach Luke Fickel who convinced him to get back into coaching.

“We kind of just chip away with who’s from here and who do we want to go get,” Dota said about who the association tries to bring in to speak. “We try to start with the guys who are local and give them opportunities first then we move on. They have more of a purpose to come back and speak to guys.”

“If you can get one or two things that you can put into your program like with the weight lifting,” Lisbon’s Jim Tsilimos said about applying information from the clinic. “It seems like it’s more spread. I’m not a spread guy but how do you defend it? I like to know how they do it so I can defend it. It’s been a great clinic, and the food is good,” Tsilimos said with a smile.

Saturday’s event, hosted by WKBN’s own Ryan Allison kicked off with YSU’s head football coach Bo Pelini talking about the open door policy he has with the area high school coaches. He invited them to spring practice and explained that he is recruiting this area first, pointing to the number of local players that the Penguins signed to play at YSU this year.

Following Pelini, his brother and defensive coordinator Carl talked to the group about the success that the Penguins had this past year leading to the FCS championship game. He explained how they emphasize 3rd down, making it uncomfortable for teams as they blitzed out of non-pressure looking defensive formations.

Wrapping up Saturday’s clinic was former West Branch alum, Steve McNeely, the offensive coordinator at Guilford College along with Tom Stacy and Doug Geiser, co-offensive coordinators at the University of Ashland. McNeely talked about offensive tempo while Stacy and Geiser talked about the Eagles success using fullbacks and tight ends. They admitted they are unusual today with so many spread offenses. They also pointed out that they only had 26 plays last year resulting in negative yardage, the best in all of Division II football.

“It’s like a continuing education for us,” Boardman Spartan’s head coach Joe Ignazio said on the importance of the clinic. “We’re just looking for things that we can take and use for our program. Not looking for a complete overall of schemes or anything like that, but anything we can use in our offseason to add to our scheme or change up a scheme a little either offensively or defensively.”

Both Ignazio and Tsiimos mentioned that the clinic also gives their entire coaching staff a chance to get together, “It’s a good staff builder too. It gets us out and away from the daily grind of being in the office. It’s nice to get away and do stuff like this with your peers.”

“During the winter months, a lot of us don’t see each other because we have kids going to games and this gives us a chance to get together and enjoy a day of football. It’s a good thing,” Tsilimos said.

“We always seem to have a good turnout,” Dota added. “It seems like the guys I talk to just afterward will say ‘hey, that was good clinic’, so hopefully we can continue that year in and year out.”


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