AUSTINTOWN, OHIO (WKBN) – High school basketball teams are getting set for tournaments while baseball teams are putting final touches on preparations for the beginning of their season. But it was area high school football coaches who spent the weekend preparing for the start of their season at the 2018 Bob Dove/YSU Coaches Clinic at Hollywood Racino in Austintown Friday night and Saturday morning.
The event was sponsored by the Quad County, Mahoning Valley, and Trumbull County Coaches Associations. It featured coaches from both YSU and the University of Kentucky.
“We (Quad County) approached them,” Co-Coordinator Bob Spaite said. “They (Bob Dove) were very, very receptive. They were very receptive because the Bob Dove part of their clinic had dwindled a little bit and they were happy to give us control as far as this kind of stuff, and then we’re relying on them to help get us speakers. They have far more connections than we do.”
Th event had roughly 90 attendees for the Friday night secession and around 80 that came out for the Saturday portion. Spaite explained that they look at 150 in attendance to make the event successful.
The proceedings began with YSU special teams coach Ron Stoops addressing the crowd. He explained that YSU spends 50% of their special teams practice on punting. He demonstrated strike and step drills along with two and three-man shields, along with wedge coverages.
Following his presentation, Ron introduced his brother and recently retired Oklahoma Sooner coach Bob Stoops, brother and current University of Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops, and uncle Robert Stoops. Bob Stoops addressed the coaches and spoke of the importance of football in the area.
Mark Stoops spoke about his experience of facing his brother Bob while serving as the defensive coordinator with Florida State back in 2010. Following a devastating loss to the Sooners, Mark spent considerable time speaking to YSU’s own Bo Pelini about defense, leading him to totally change his philosophy on defense.
Mark then presented some keys to be a defensive back at Kentucky. Some of the priorities are mental toughness, discipline, confidence, attention to detail, awareness and instincts, ball skills, open field tackler, being a clutch performer in critical situations, and winning one on one battles.
He also added that his staff spends considerable time recruiting the state of Ohio. Mentioning the privilege of returning to the Youngstown area because it is the roots of who the Stoops are.
“We probably have five or six guys from the Youngstown area,” Mark Stoops said. “They (local coaches) definitely help. We know what we are getting generally with guys from this area. We know the way they have been coached, and how they have been brought up and the competitors that they are.”
“Just to give back,” Mark added of attending the event. “This is where we grew up, where we cut our teeth. We still try to be as involved in this community as much as we possibly can. When they asked me to come and speak, I was glad to make it work and spend some time with the coaches and familiar faces.”
YSU head coach Bo Pelini then addressed the coaches explaining that YSU wants to work with the local high school coaches. He empathized that YSU wants to have a big local presence in part by using walk-ons where they can help with academic scholarships.
“You never know if you may have a kid that can help out at the next level. So you always want to come here and make connections because you just never know,” Lowellville’s football coach Doug Valesquez remarked. “I come here to build relations with college coaches and the other (high school) coaches as well. We’re kind of in a fraternity.”
“But I really come to pick up drills from the college coaches,” Valesquez continued. “Sometimes its hard to pick up schemes here, I’ve had my schemes for a long time. But I like to pick up what kind of drills they do, what kind of techniques they use and maybe I can use them in my system.”
The night concluded with YSU Offensive Coordinator Brian Crist talking about utilizing a controlled passing game. He stressed that coaches should build a friendly system for their team that will help them utilized their talent the best. He also shared their philosophy at YSU is to gain five yards on first down, and half of the rest on second down, leaving them short yardage situations on third down.
The Saturday portion of the program saw YSU’s Co-Defensive Coordinator Donald D’Alesio speak about how they give their defensive linemen freedom to play off blocks in order to make plays. He revealed how much the linemen enjoy the defensive schemes that they employ.
Following D’Alsio was the University of Kentucky Tight Ends coach Vince Marrow. Marrow explained how he is in charge of recruiting in Ohio and explained how he knows what to expect from kids in this area with their knowledge of techniques and spiritually. He also added that Ohio kids have made Kentucky competitive in the rugged SEC and that Ohio high school football coaches have a lot of credibility now in the SEC.
Concluding the clinic was YSU’s running back coach Nic McKissic-Luke who spoke about the Penguin backs having their eyes always on the read keys. He also stressed that they keep their footwork and trust what they see and be decisive.
Photos: Bob Dove Coaches Clinic
Photos: Bob Dove Coaches Clinic x