Good afternoon, Coaches! It’s playoff season, so we know you’re busy. If you have time, here are a couple of the stories we’re talking about today.

1. Canadian high school students overcome gang violence, dwindling participation numbers to play in football championship (CBC News)

This is an inspiring story of a team from Manitoba, Canada that pulled together in the face of gang violence throughout its local community to post the best football season in school history. The team, St. John’s, will play for its first championship in 38 years tonight.

St. John’s team captain Nick Wakos shares the background of the school’s surrounding neighborhoods.

“Lots of adversity, because in our neighbourhood there’s a lot of gang violence, there’s a lot of drug abuse, there’s a lot of horrible things that happen,” said Nick Wakos, one of the team’s captains. “There was a student at the school [last summer] who was robbed at gunpoint during one of our practices. It really impacted a lot of the younger students,” he said.

St. John’s High School football coach Grant McMillan said that football has brought the players together and given them a sense of purpose.

He said being on a team has helped give many kids a sense of belonging, recounting a story of one young player who recently made the team.
“When I gave him his St. John’s Tigers football T-shirt he was just glowing [and said] ‘I’ve never been a part of anything before,'” said McMillan.
“This T-shirt just signified to him this sense of belonging that he’s never had.”

Good luck to the St. John’s football team tonight. We’ll be pulling for you from afar.

How do you keep your players from getting distracted by negative outside influences?

2. Football is a Brotherhood 🏈 = ✊ West Valley (Calif.) plays to honor their fallen teammate, Tyson Wacker. 🙏 (Max Preps)

Here’s a moving video about a Northern California team’s efforts to honor a teammate who died tragically in a car accident two weeks ago. Even the opposing teams have shown their support for Wacker’s teammates over the last two weeks.

Our thoughts are certainly with West Valley as it continues to heal.

What is a coach’s role when tragedy strikes his team?

3. PODCAST: NFL Coach & 3 Time Rose Bowl Winner Jim Hueber Talks Goal Line (First Down Playbook)

This is a good listen for coaches who like to get into the X’s and O’s of football. Former Minnesota Vikings and University of Wisconsin offensive line coach Jim Hueber talks about one of the most important situations in football — goal line offense.

It’s interesting to hear Heuber say that despite the amount of planning that goes into scheming the right plays in this situation, it often comes down to toughness.

The toughness aspect and the ability to go get that one yard in a goal line situation is something that is sold first and foremost by the offensive line coach.

Obviously, we’ve all seen the trend in high school football of spreading the offense out at the goal line and creating more opportunities in space for the play-makers. Heuber, for one, is not a fan of that trend.

Today we also look at the more recent approach with short yardage and goal line situations and compare this to bringing in big personnel to get the job done. It’s an interesting look at a very critical football situation and Coach Hueber certainly does not disappoint.

Give it a listen if you have a chance.

What drills have you found useful in helping your team succeed in goal-line situations?

What’s driving the conversation in your locker room? Email Managing Editor Dan Guttenplan or Tweet us @fnfcoaches. Don’t forget to use that hashtag #FNFCoachesTalk!

About the author

Dan Guttenplan