The Way I See It: Vol. 6

In this sixth edition of Coach Carey’s blog, ‘The Way I See It,’ the former coach takes a closer look at SOS.com’s Game of the Week which pitted Council Rock North against Neshaminy. He also addresses the question of how to change the culture of a team in the second of a regular feature that will include questions from coaches.

SOS.com: You were in attendance at Saturday’s Council Rock North/Neshaminy game. What were your overall observations?
Coach Carey: I thought going in it was going to be a great game and I wasn’t disappointed. I expected a lot more scoring, but when you woke up and saw the weather that day, I was wondering if they might play it later that night. The weather absolutely played a factor, but the field held up fairly well.  It seemed like it affected both teams early in the game with some huge turnovers, but then both teams adjusted to the conditions. Needless to say, it was a heck of a game to watch. The way it ended was almost sad for Council Rock North, but somehow Neshaminy – led by coach Mark Schmidt – proved again that they are winners. They find ways to win. That day it was on a missed extra point. That was a weather-related missed kick, in my opinion.
SOS.com: Could you share your thoughts about each team’s performance, starting with Rock North?
Coach Carey: I thought Council Rock North had a very nice game plan offensively. They spread the ball around in the first half. I think Tyler Hamilton is one of the most improved players in the league. Every game I see him, he absolutely gets better, and the thing he’s doing that makes him so good is the same thing that Todd Smolinsky from North Penn does and that ‘s being a double threat to run or pass.  Hamilton is now a very, very dangerous runner, and he showed that with some nice scrambles.
When he went down, Kevin Hacker came in at QB, and he didn’t miss a beat. Rock head coach Tom Coates said he had been practicing well and had been the backup for two years. He was calm and threw pinpoint passes.
One thing I believe CR North could do better is get the ball to Brandon Cottom, their junior running back, more often. Brandon is a big-time threat, a guy who could change the game instantly. He only had 11 touches running the football in the game, and that is just not enough in my opinion.
He’s such a thoroughbred. You just have to find ways to give him the ball more. I think he’s the consummate ‘I’ tailback, but that’s not CR North’s offensive scheme. Brandon is coming off a pretty serious concussion his sophomore year, but he’s getting better every week. I know he’s being highly recruited by high level Division One schools because he’s got the unique combination of speed and size at 6’2”, 225 lbs. On the first two series of the second half, he didn’t touch the football. If you have a guy that really could be a game changer, you’ve got to feed him the ball. Maybe their thinking is to bring him along slowly. I thought that was a game that could have gone either way, and you’ve got to give the ball to your horse. That being said, Council Rock still had a shot to get the game into overtime.
I thought Rock played very well. On that last drive, they did a great job. They got the ball with around five minutes left and drove the length of the field, mostly throwing the ball. The touchdown pass was an eight-yard seam vs. Neshaminy’s man defense.
SOS.com: What were your thoughts about Rock North wide receiver Ty Bostain as well as Rock North’s overall talent?
Coach Carey: Ty is a good high school receiver. He’s proven that for three years. He had a very, very good junior year. He’s a guy that caught some nice five-yard stops, and he caught a nice skinny post over the middle. He’s tough, he’s got good size, and he actually doubles as a defensive end in pass situations.
Council Rock just has a lot of good athletes. They have more athletes than almost all teams in the National Conference. They rival Pennsbury in terms of number of athletes on the field. You look on the defensive side of the ball, and in my opinion, they have three of the league’s better defensive guys. Jon Raymon, who is a defensive end, is just going to be highly, highly recruited next year, and in fact, Council Rock - with Cottom and Raymon - will have two of the most widely recruited kids in the Delaware Valley next year as seniors. They have Lee Marvel at middle linebacker – he’s as tough as they come, and Hamilton – when he’s healthy – is a tremendous ball hawk at free safety. Some of the shots he puts on people…the shot he put on Dean – you could hear it echoing through the stadium. It was a tremendous hit by both guys.
SOS.com: What were your observations about Neshaminy’s performance?
Coach Carey: I thought Neshaminy did a good job on offense. When you see Bryan Dean in person, you come to respect how tough the kid is. He’s a really tough, hard-nosed high school running back with very good vision. He’s a kid who takes a pounding and just gets back up and continues to run and run hard. They have a very nice offensive line and a couple of nice fullbacks and some fine receivers. I really like Stephen Stemme. He’s an underrated player on both sides of the football for Neshaminy who is playing at an all-league level. Defensively, I think Neshaminy needs some work. They have given up a lot of yardage at times this year both on the ground and in the air. In the Rock game, pass coverage and QB pressure were major items where they were deficient at times. I see issues that must be addressed soon, or this could be the Achilles heel of the 2009 Redskins. Bottom line though is…don’t count out a Mark Schmidt team…he finds ways to win.
SOS.com: How do you view the playoff picture for Council Rock North after Saturday’s loss?
Coach Carey:  Council Rock North has to win its next two games. They have Truman this week and then CR South. That’s the tough part for Coach Coates and his Council Rock North team – by not winning Saturday’s game, now they have a must-win situation to get to six wins, and even at six wins – some six-win teams will get in, and some six-win teams will not, so they’re going to be on the bubble.
They have to win both games. They have a tough, physical Truman team this week, and that last game against CR South – that’s like the old CB East- CB West games where you can throw the records out. That’s going to be a heck of a contest.
SOS.com: After watching the Central Bucks East/Central Bucks West game on film, what were your observations?
Coach Carey:  I have so many emotions when I watch CBW play either live or on film. It actually hurts me to see the number of fans who come out to the game. East-West was such a huge rivalry for 30 years. We’d have 12-15,000 fans at the games. There might have been 1,500 people at this year’s game. It kind of tells you where the rivalry is and where these two teams are at the present time. You have two teams that are both struggling.
CB East is playing with a staff that is working together and kind of co- coaching the team, and West is a team that is coming off several brutal seasons. I think Brian Hensel (West’s new head coach) has made CBW  competitive, but competitive is going to get you a cup of coffee after you say it about three or four times.
Everybody wants to win, and that’s the satisfaction we take in this society. But you have to stick to your plan. That’s the key thing. If you have a solid plan, the right staff and stay at it--things will change for the better. Brian is playing a lot of young kids. He had five or six sophomores either starting or playing a lot , and that game against East was a game I thought West could have won. They were up 14-0. East scored right at the end of the second quarter to make it a 14-7 game at halftime. In the second half, East comes out and their offensive line dominates and Justyn White rips off over 100 yards in the second half alone, and East wins 22-14.
That was a game that could have gone either way. West had their opportunities throughout the game but continued to shoot themselves in the foot with a bad snap, a fumble. They’d throw a pass complete for a 20-yard gain that was called back because of procedure. These are the type of things good programs do not do, and it’s tough to stop the bleeding all at once.
I know Brian really has his heart and soul in this, and I think at the end of the season he’s going to have to evaluate everything. It’s his first year as a head coach, and I know every year I got better as a coach.  I think Dick Beck, Mark Schmidt, Ed Gallagher, etc. would say the same thing – they’re better today than they were the first year, probably way better. This is Brian’s first year running the company, and he’ll be better next year. You have to continue to get numbers out. As the season goes on, the attrition takes its toll. I know two weeks ago he only had six offensive linemen against North Penn. That’s it...no one on the sidelines who could even play that position. Again it’s all about building a program and one part of the equation is getting numbers out to work with.
SOS.com: What is your read on Hatboro-Horsham’s recent struggles?
Coach Carey: I think Hatboro has had a season where they’ve had a ton of injuries, and that’s a key thing. Dave Sanderson runs a really good program. When I saw them early in the season, I thought they were going to be a strong team, but even before the Neshaminy game, they had lost a really good running back in Eddie Coombs. They have just been beset by injuries, and they’re getting hurt a little bit team speed-wise defensively. I also think some of the other teams have improved. HH has dropped a little bit but will recover by season’s end.  I’ve said it before - this is a funny year. I try to pick a TOP TEN FOOTBALL POLL, and sometimes it’s hard to pick THE BOTTOM FIVE because everyone is beating each other.
In my opinion, for teams in District One talent-wise...this is an average year. I think we have five or six good teams in District One, and then I think there are a lot of so-so teams.
SOS.com: You did the radio broadcast of the Quakertown-North Penn game two weeks ago. What are your thoughts about that game?
Coach Carey:  I was very interested to see what level Quakertown’s football team was at this year. I thought the game was going to be closer than it was. There’s no doubt in my mind that North Penn is  just superior to everybody else in the Continental Conference, but never in my wildest dreams did I think that they would score on six consecutive possessions and go up 41-0 at halftime. It’s one thing to have 41 points scored on you, but in that game, the thrashing I saw North Penn give Quakertown was unlike what I had seen or expected. There were just gaping holes in Quakertown’s defense, and it was just an old-fashioned, take-them-to-the-barn-and-whip-their-butts affair.
Dick Beck was respectful and played his second and third teams the whole second half. Quakertown did some decent things in the second half. At this moment, Q-town has a ways to go before they get to the level of North Penn.
SOS.com: What are your observations about North Penn as it rolls through to the Continental Conference week after week?                                                                                                                          
Coach Carey: There’s nobody even close to North Penn at this point in the Continental Conference. I just got done watching the film of the Souderton/North Penn game, and in the first half, Souderton was  impressive at times and did some good things against North Penn’s defense. I thought North Penn was flat, and I’m sure Dick Beck is going to address that this week, and they’ll have a hard week of practice.
I think North Penn is a very good football team, but it has a ways to go before it can be considered a great football team. They’re a team that needs to continue getting better in practice and bring their ‘A game’ to every contest because they’re just not physically imposing in certain areas. The real questions will be answered come playoffs and when they meet some team which is physically strong across the board. IS THERE ONE OUT THERE??? I’m not sure this year.
Souderton has very tough kids. I told Ed Gallagher (Souderton head coach) after the Pennridge game that I thought his offensive line was impressive, and he has a couple of tough, quick  running backs behind that offensive line. That combined with the offense they run (wing T) - which has a lot of deception -makes it hard to defend. They went after North Penn with some power football. They did not fear North Penn, and that’s impressive, and that comes from Coach Gallagher and Coach Barry Benfield. They instilled in this team that, “We want to win…we’re not going to back down.” Their guys had courage. North Penn ended up winning by three scores (27-6), but Souderton never backed down.
North Penn really has to take a lesson out of this, and the lesson is – we better come to play every game because one false step in the playoffs, and you’re home watching TV reruns!!
SOS.com: Pennsbury travels to Abington for a BIG GAME (SOS.com’s Game of the Week).  Thoughts??
Coach Carey: I think this is a tricky game for Pennsbury. I have now seen Pennsbury twice on film, and they’re an impressive team. I’m really looking forward to next week – I’m going to take off from WNPV broadcasting and go down to the Pennsbury/Neshaminy game.
This week’s game against Abington is almost a trap for Pennsbury. Pennsbury cannot look ahead to Neshaminy. They’ve got to play their best game because Abington is capable of putting up a lot of points…their just so explosive offensively. I do think that Pennsbury will impose their will on Abington’s defense. This will be a good test to see if Pennsbury is improving. To beat a North Penn, Neshaminy or a Ridley, you have to continue to get better.
The regular season means something, but these last two or three games going into the playoffs, it’s important to get better every week because the competition gets better as you get to the top of the food chain. I think this is absolutely the game of the week. Of course, you have contrasting styles. Pennsbury is going to just pound you offensively running the football with their big offensive line. They’ve also got more speed than I’ve seen them have in a couple of years.  
Abington, of course, has had its issues the last month, but they seemed to right the ship last week. They have some great athletes on both sides of the ball, a good coaching staff, and you’re playing on their home field. That, to me, makes this a tough physical game for both teams.  Abington is a playoff-bound team. It wouldn’t surprise me if they ended up in the semifinals of the district playoffs. That’s how potent they are offensively. The real question is again – will Abington’s defense come to play?
Ask Coach Carey…
Council Rock North Coach Tom Coates:  What are the keys to changing the "culture" of a program; from the players being happy with a good showing to where the players expect to win every time they walk on the field?
 Coach Carey: Tom, thanks for the question and what a great one! In my opinion, changing the "culture" of a program is a multi-faceted task that can take one or more years depending on many variables. I believe getting a team to believe that every time they walk on the field THEY WILL WIN starts first with the Head Coach and his Staff. They must have an overall plan, they must have a "we are going to win" attitude, and as a staff, they must be totally unified in their talking, preaching and teaching to the kids. (There can be NO coaches doing their own thing.)
There has to be system in place. The Head coach has to put HIS STAMP on the team and organize and demand that every scheme and technique (Offensive schemes, Defensive schemes, QB steps, RB paths, line techniques, receiver routes, QB progression, D-Line tech, D-Ends alignment and tech, coverages and reads, special teams, etc., etc., etc., ...) are taught the same way and the WAY HE WANTS THEM!  
This corporate plan is not unlike a business plan...It has a CEO, it has a chain of command, it is organized and developed in stages and then, most importantly...EXECUTED! It starts with an offseason program that is second to none! You must find who is doing it the best, research it and implement it. It MUST include strength training, weight gain, flexibility, agility, speed and skill work. Leaving one out could spell disaster.
When I went to University of Pittsburgh, we were coming off a 1-10 season and the school brought in Johnny Majors as head coach with Jackie Sherrill, Jimmy Johnson, Foge Fazio, Joe Alvazzano as assistants. In our first team meeting, they told us THEY were WINNERS...WHO DIDN'T LOSE OFTEN. They said we would outwork everyone, and from that moment on to set our goal of a bowl game. By the time winter workouts were over, WE BELIEVED IN THEM, and it was apparent that we had changed our attitudes from losers to winners...we went to the Fiesta Bowl vs. Arizona State the next year! Why??...all the coaches spoke the same language (work harder, don't ever quit, win, win, win! I can still hear them screaming), they had a great offseason program, and they put together a great offensive and defensive scheme that featured our team SPEED.
Coach Coates, the same thing occurred at CB West when I coached there. Coach Pettine had a clear picture of what he wanted to accomplish. He was extremely organized, and everyone knew what they had to teach every day. By working with a great plan, the kids see how organized you are and start believing that "hey I better listen to these guys....they know what their saying.”
Finally, you as the Head Coach have to find a way to win the BIG GAME. Year in and year out you'll have varying talent levels, but MY OPINION is that the high school staff can literally win games for their team during the week (scheming, game planning) and then during the big game with the RIGHT DECISIONS. Once you do that, the team will see that THEIR COACHES ARE GIVING THEM AN EDGE....and give their total commitment to you and never question any call, formation, scheme, etc. This is when a coach can do great things with good talent and good things with average talent.
Of course, winning will generate enthusiasm, better practices and higher player numbers...all parts of the equation. Coach Coates, when you do cross the divide and defeat some top level teams this will set your off season program off on the right track and things will start to snowball towards success. The TEAMS YOU HAVEN'T BEATEN should stay at the top of the blackboard in the weight room for everyone to view daily as they begin their workouts. Believe me...there is no better motivation for an offseason than to prepare for the BULLY DOWN THE ROAD. Coach Coates, best of luck for the remainder of the season as you, your staff and your team pursue the quest to make the playoffs.  COACH CAREY
THE REAL TOP TEN
1)      NORTH PENN
2)      PENNSBURY
3)      ST JOES PREP
4)      LASALLE
5)      RIDLEY
6)      NESHAMINY
7)      DTW
8)      O’HARA
9)      GARNET VALLEY
10)   SOUDERTON
 
INQUIRER PICKS “TEAM OF THE DECADE” ...and puts me on the Hot Seat!!!!
Rick O’Brien, head high school writer for The Inquirer, wrote a great article which ran last Sunday, Oct 17. In it, he polled many area coaches and put together the TOP TEN TEAMS for the 2000 decade. I thought he did a great job researching the teams and then making a bracket and pairing them together with fantasy games until it got to a final game of the 2003 North Penn vs. 2000 CB West teams. The outcome was a 23-21 win by the 2003 State Champs North Penn (I was O line coach and D-Coordinator) over 2000 State-Finalist CB West (I was head coach).  This put me in a very uncomfortable position as my phone rang and buzzed from calls and texts throughout the day. Players from both teams were adamant that their team was the best ...and they wanted me to agree with them. When I hesitated, a few actually got mad. I comforted them but was uneasy to say the least. I do know that my year as head coach at CB West was very special, and my year as D-coordinator with Dick Beck was second to none in terms of fulfillment and memories. I think the last thing I said to Phil DiGiammco (great FB at CBW) was “48-45…..3 overtimes.” “Who won?” he asked. “The best team!” was my reply.
 That’s it…keep the e-mails coming to SuburbanOneSports@comcast.net. I’ll answer all your questions with an honest answer. Until later...keep the hits coming. There’s no game in America like High School Football.
COACH CAREY