By Derek Smith, FNF Coaches Contributor
For over a half century, Larry “Bud” Wright has led Sheridan High (Ind.) onto the gridiron each Friday night, coaching three generations of student-athletes in the small midwestern town of 3,000, a half-hour drive north of Indianapolis.
Coaches who reach milestones will sometimes say it’s just a product of longevity, which may be the case, but you also have to win games along the way.
Wright has won a lot of them in his 53 years of coaching. His record of 410-192-2 makes him the winningest coach in Indiana high school football history. Nine state titles (1980, 1984, 1987, 1988, 1992, 1998, 2005, 2006, 2007) at the Class A school is tied for the best ever in the Hoosier State.
Wright says he has witnessed tremendous changes in high school football in Indiana going as far back as his playing days at Sheridan.
“The biggest thing I’ve seen is the coaches are more dedicated now,” he said. “I thought when I first went out there I could out-coach people.”
The talent and competition has also improved, Wright says, especially in the “hotbed” areas of metro Indy, South Bend, Fort Wayne and Gary.
“That’s where a lot of the recruits are coming from,” he said.
The top 2017 high school football player in Indiana was quarterback Hunter Johnson of Brownsburg. As the No. 1 prep quarterback in the country, according to ESPN, Johnson was a freshman backup on Clemson’s College Football Playoff team last fall and is vying for the starting position this spring.
Wright says he knew he wanted to coach after college during his sophomore year at Ball State, and all these years later he still gets incredible satisfaction from his profession.
“Football coaches and players are pretty good guys to be around,” he said. “The camaraderie is great.”
Q&A with Coach Wright – Safety and Prevention
How important is safety on the field to you as a coach?
“It is very, very important. We try to keep up on all the new ideas and new techniques as far as doing things correctly. I think we dedicate a lot of time to it. I tell our coaches before the season that we don’t want to get kids hurt, especially during practice. We do not allow low tackles in practice at all. We’ve actually cut down on tackling the last few years, period. A lot of our tackling drills are form tackling. We really work on safety greatly.”
What’s the best way to prevent injury?
“Weightlifting. Try to get stronger. We try to get an injured player in the weight room to build the area that is deficient. We try to get him in top-notch shape so he’s not as susceptible to injury.”
What do you do to make sure anyone with concussion symptoms doesn’t step onto the field?
“Concussions are something I think is in the forefront of concern and you have to be very careful how you handle it. We always have a trainer on site. In all the years we’ve had a trainer, I’ve never one time questioned him. If the trainer says he’s out, he’s out.”
The Larry “Bud” Wright Profile
Team: Sheridan High (Ind.)
Years as Head Coach: 53
State Championships: 9
Coaching record: 410-192-2
Profession: Head Football Coach, past Athletic Director, former History teacher
Family: Wife Ellen, sons Kevin, Travis and Kent, and daughters Cheri and Lana
Accomplishments: Member of Indiana High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame, 2008 National Federation of Coaches Coach of the Year
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