Monday, September 17, 2012

High School Football America National Top 25


By Jeff Fisher
High School Football America

As promised, we took a month’s worth of games before deciding on our very first High School Football America Top 25.

Quite, honestly, we were trying to stay away from doing a national poll, but our readers kept asking for it, so we decided what the heck, let’s give it a whirl and see how it turns-out.

For those of you that follow me on our national radio show, you know I think that polls are all about creating conversation, not actually crowning a “mythical national champion.”

Taking the mantle in our first poll is Santa Margarita (Rancho Santa Margarita, CA).  The Eagles are the defending CIF Division I champion, with a ton of talent back from the 2011 squad, including Nebraska-recruit Johnny Stanton at quarterback.  After a less-than-impressive couple of wins to start the season, the Eagles have turned it on with back-to-back 55-0 and 72-0 shutout victories. 

We’ll find-out how good Santa Margarita is this week when it faces unbeaten St. Bonaventure (Ventura, CA). 

Manatee from Florida came-in a close second in our first Top 25 with Bergen Catholic (Oradell, NJ) checking-in at #3 after an impressive 2-0 start to a one of the toughest schedules in the nation.  BC has already beaten two defending state champs in St. Anthony’s (New York) and Bishop Gorman (Nevada).  Desoto (Texas) and John Curtis (River Ridge, Louisiana) round-out our initial Top 5.

So without further a do, here’s our very first Top 25:

1. Santa Margarita (Rancho Santa Margarita, CA) 4-0
Hung 72 points on Carson Friday, which set a school record for points.  Big showdown this week with unbeaten St. Bonaventure.

2. Manatee (Bradenton, FL) 3-0
Coming off solid 44-34 win against Miami Central that began the season ranked #1 be USA Today.

3. Bergen Catholic (Oradell, NJ) 2-0
Have beaten two defending state champs in St. Anthony’s (New York) and Bishop Gorman (Nevada)

4. DeSoto (Texas) 3-0
Solid 42-21 victory of power Euless Trinity, which followed a big win over Oklahoma-power Jenks two weeks ago.

5. John Curtis (River Ridge, LA) 3-0
Big win two week’s ago against defending Florida 8A champ Plant and solid win Friday against East St. John.

6. Byrnes (Duncan, SC) 4-0
The Rebels appear poised to head into the postseason undefeated.

7. Bellevue (Washington) 3-0
The Wolverines beat Texas-power Euless Trinity to start the season and now appear poised to go after their 9th Washington state title in the last 11 years.

8. De La Salle (Concord, CA) 4-0
The Spartans survived a scare Friday in 21-13 win over St. Mary’s of Stockton.

9. Trinity (Louisville, KY) 4-0
29-game win streak for the four-time defending Kentucky 6A champs.

10. St. Ignatius (Cleveland, OH) 4-0
The defending Division I champs have been challenged in four wins

11. Allen (Texas) 3-0
Two of the Eagles next three opponents are undefeated through three weeks of games in Texas.

12. Camden County (Kingsland, GA) 3-0
After Grayson’s stunning loss to Parkview on Friday, the Wildcats are the only Georgia team to find its way into our inaugural poll

13. Hoover (Alabama) 4-0
The Bucs 4-0 start includes a solid win over South Panola (Mississippi) in Week 2

14. Cass Tech (Detroit, MI) 4-0
The defending Division 1 champs have looked very good after an impressive win over defending Division 2 champ Brother Rice in season opener.

15. Vista Murrieta (Murrieta, CA) 3-0
The Broncos are loaded with offensive talent that was on display in Friday 59-14 win over Redlands East Valley

16. Lake Travis (Austin, TX) 3-0
The move to Class 5A will be interesting for the Cavaliers who picked-up a 28-24 victory over Round Rock Westwood Friday.

17. Archbishop Moeller (Cincinnati, OH) 4-0
Moeller will be tested this week when it faces St. Xavier of Cincinnati.

18. Ensworth (Nashville, TN) 5-0
Ensworth is averaging over 46 points a game.

19. Narbonne (Harbor City, CA) 3-0
The Gauchos defense hasn’t allowed a touchdown this season.

20. Butler (Matthews, NC) 4-0
Butler is going after its three North Carolina big schools title in the last four years.

21. Katy (Texas) 3-0
The Tigers offense continued to click with 516 yards in 63-10 win over The Woodlands.

22. Oaks Christian (Westlake Village, CA) 4-0
The Lions haven’t lost a step with Jeff Woodruff taking over for legendary Bill Redell.

23. Bishop Gorman (Nevada) 3-1
The Gaels won’t have time to think about Friday’s loss to Bergen Catholic with a road trip to Southern California this week to face Servite.

24. Good Counsel (Maryland) 3-1
With DeMatha looming two weeks away, GC can’t look past this week’s match-up with Gonzaga.

25. University (Ft. Lauderdale) 3-0
University’s impressive 49-3 win over Cocoa lands them the final spot in our first-ever Top 25.

"The Turnaround": Another Close Call

by Jason Strunk
Lubbock High School Head Coach


Lubbock Cooper Pirates vs. Lubbock High

Location - Lubbock, TexasStadium - Lowrey Field at Plains Capital Park
Time - 8:00 p.m.
Captains - Joel Rivera, Raleigh Anderson, Keefe Gallagher, Dom Adame
Coin Toss - We want the ball (Cooper won toss and deferred).

Westerner Key's to victory:
1. Finish drives
2. Ball security/protect the ball
3. Red Zone efficiency (just score!)

Tidbits:


Coach Strunk's Cooper Note
Board

LHS had lost 24 straght games heading into this contest... Cooper is a state-ranked opponent that is located just outside Lubbock city limits... Weather was cool...perfect football weather...crowd approximately 8,000... 

Game Notes:

There is no point in going blow-by-blow on this game. This game was lost on two crucial drives.

With the Westerners up 21-19 in the first half, we had the ball with about 6 minutes to go in the quarter. We were moving the ball pretty good all game. We had it in our hands again. This time we had a chance to go up 28-19 at the half! A lead that would have been the difference in the game. A lead that could have snapped the streak. A lead that, well, simply put, could have been the LEAD of the year.

As it turns out, we marched inside the 5 yard line and came away empty... again. We mixed up the play calling well, I thought. RB Brandon Hernandez was hit for a loss on 1st down. 2nd down we were nailed with a sack. All of a sudden we are back to the 14. On 3rd down, we were sacked again. However, we caught a break as Cooper was called for an offside penalty. This set up and 3rd and goal from the 9. We tried Brandon on a run again. Why? He is an All District Running Back that carries people with him. He makes things happen. Also, I didn't want to be stuck with a 4th and 9. Percentages say, the lesser the yards, the higher the execution rate. I was hoping for very manageable 4th and 4 or 5.

Brandon was hit again in the backfield again. This time getting back to the LOS. I was right where I didn't want to be: 4th and goal from the 9. Kicking a field goal was not in my plans. I have all the confidence in the world in our kicker, Ryan Rodriguez, however, at some point we need to overcome this red zone funk. I can't always kick field goals, especially in a few weeks once district games start. They need to learn to finish. Finish a drive! If we could put 7 on the board it would have been the giant step we need to take!

On 4th and 9, QB Layven Armendariz dropped back and fired a bullet over the middle at WR Bam Jackson. He was open. Bam was walking in with a TD... except a Cooper LB got his hand up at the last second and tipped the ball up and over Bam's head. TD lost. Turnover on downs. 28-19 lead not to be had.

My thought at this point was, let's get into half with the 21-19 lead. Our defense came out and did their job. We got the ball back and ran out the clock. We will take a halftime lead any day of the week. We were up at half on a state ranked opponent. Not a situation too many people would feel down about. 

We felt we could sustain the lead and grind out one more score. Cooper was receiving the 2nd half kick. If we could get a stop and punch one in, we would be alright. Cooper had other plans, however.

Cooper took the opening drive and scored. Their QB threw a long TD to beat our man coverage. I personally felt our coverage was good. CB Amadeo Conyers was in good shape. Travis Windham, the Cooper QB, threw one heck of a ball. Give them credit. Cooper up 27-21. 

We weren't worried. We kept the sore this way until we began a drive with eight minutes left in the 4th quarter. We faced a 3rd and 9 in Cooper territory. from the 48, Armendariz hit Cory Schovanec on the outside. "Schov" caught it, made a move, put his hand on the ground, and off he went. 44 yards later, we are on the 4 yard line. Five minutes to go. Down by 6. On the 4. Time to punch this in and get the "W".

On 1st down, Hernandez carried to the 2 yard line. 3 plays to get two yards! On 2nd and goal from the 2, Armendariz kept it. He was dropped for a loss. now we were looking at 3rd and goal from the 6. No panic. We felt we were going to be fine.

On 3rd and 6 we slipped Brandon out on a screen to the right. He was WIDE open. The only thing between Brandon and the end zone was turf. Turf! Layven released the ball. A strike, so it seemed, until Cooper's DE stuck his left hand out and tipped the ball away. The ball falls to the turf and you could hear the roar of the crowd turn to a groan. He was clearly open.

Now we had another 4th down. Had to get the ball into the end zone. We liked all of our options. This was the make or break play of the game. Everything we wanted was right in front of us. All the frustrations could end, right here, right now. It was time.

Layven dropped back. He peeked the post in the end zone. He didn't like it. He checked to number 2. He didn't like it. Layven stepped up in the pocket. He never checked off to #3. He was dropped for a sack before he could ever get the ball out. Our #3 check down, Brandon Hernandez, was standing wide open to the left. We just didn't get it out to him. Ball game over. Cooper (who added a safety late) wins 29-21. If we punch it in, the safety never happens and we win 28-27, assuming our D had one more stop in them.

Possibly 4 yards from victory. We were on the doorstep again. Can we get any closer?

I will say this. Layven Armendariz is one of the toughest players I have ever been around. We don't want anyone else back there running the offense. Next time out, he makes that play and we pull it out. He is a solid QB and he is our guy all the way to the end. Layven, you are an excellent QB and we have nothing but good times ahead of us. Mental toughness and attitude! You have everything it takes.

Another tough loss to swallow. But we swallowed it. I didn't give them any time to hang their heads. We were back in on Saturday at 9 a.m. No time to rest. Time to work and work harder, at that. 

We enter our bye week this week. We have two weeks to get ready for the Andrews Mustangs. We will be ready!

Good times are ahead! I have no doubt about that!

Talk to you tomorrow....

Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday Night National Scoreboard - September 14, 2012

by Jeff Fisher
High School Football America

It's been a busy time for the High School Football America family with our move from Chicago to Los Angeles, but now that we're settled-in, we're bringing back the very popular Friday night National High School Football Scoreboard.

Check back throughout the night to see how your favorite team made out.  Some states have already been posted with Thursday night's scores.

National High School Football Scoreboard 
Friday, September 14, 2012

New Hampshire Scores
New Jersey Scores
Pennsylvania Scores


"The Turnaround": Ready for Cooper

by Jason Strunk
Lubbock High School Head Coach

We had a cold front move in today. Practice was nice and refreshing, a huge change of pace or us. The heat, especially on the turf, can be unrelenting. The gray overcast skies were also a nice change. Actually, it felt more like a practice in Pennsylvania yesterday during this time of year. The temps were in the low 60's. I would take that every day!

The welcomed cool weather provided a boost in our energy. Very crisp, sound practice today. I have really been liking our Thursday approach to practice. All we need to do now is transfer Thursday into Friday nights. It is easier said then done. However, like I have said all week, we are close to busting out of this. Right at the top of the hill, teetering on success. Once it tips in our favor, watch out. These kids are hungry! They want to succeed and they want to taste victory!

After practice we marched up to the team dining hall and our weekly spaghetti dinner. It is amazing to watch the amount of food these guys consume. Even more amazing is the relationships that are being forged on this team. There is a sense of family in pride in tht team dining hall. It is fun to watch this grow.

Good news...our black jersey's (the one's shipped off for repairs) arrived back in Lubbock today. That means we are going all black tonight. The kids really get pumped when we go all black. Let's hoepe this helps in some fashion tomorrow night!

Concussion Rules...I have fielded numerous questions this week about concussion rules, particularly about helmets coming off during play. In case you missed it last week, our RB, Brandon Hernandez (200 total yards), carried the ball down to the 1 yard line late in the 4th quarter.  Unfortunatley, for us, his helmet popped off. Once a helmet comes off during play, it is MANDATED that the player leave the field of play for at least one snap. 

You cannot call a timeout in this instance. The player must sit for a single snap. There is nothing I could have done in this scenario. Brandon's helmet came off and he had to come out. We didn't score... but we should have. From the 1 yard line you need to be able to score with anybody on your roster. Sure, it hurt not having Brandon in, but the bottom line is we didn't score and it was there to score. The blame is on us, not a rule.

Tomorrow is game day!! Time to get after it!!



Editor's Note: Lubbock plays Cooper tonight. The Westerners are looking to snap their 24-game losing streak.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

"The Turnaround": Two Days to Cooper GameDay


by Jason Strunk

What a great practice today! The kids put together a real good two hours of work and we hammered the weights following practice. Great, great way to finish up the last day of full contact for the week in preparation for our game against Cooper on Friday.

The attitude around here is right where it needs to be. Upbeat, positive and just hungry for a win. A lot of credit for the mentality here goes to the coaching staff. I am a firm believer that players feed off the coaches. You are a product of your environment. That is how football programs work. The coaching staff sets the tempo and my staff is doing a great job keeping the kids rolling along with the right demeanor.

When rebuilding programs you need the right guys around. Coaches need to understand that it is a process. It doesn't happen overnight. You need to come in each day re-charged and ready to coach your tail off! There is no time to waste and certainly no time to sit around and feel sorry for yourself about losing. Demeanor is everything!!

I will post another coaches feature tomorrow, along with some other tidbits leading into our Friday showdown against Cooper at Lowrey Field at Plains Capital Park.

Gotta run... time is right right now. Planning for Friday!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

"The Turnaround": A Winless Career...So Far


by Jason Strunk

Every day at practice you learn something new about your team and kids. Sometimes, what you learn, makes you shake your heard.

Jared Tovar, our starting right tackle, was talking with me Tuesday at practice. I said to Jared, "Aren't you tired of losing"? After giving me an emphatic "YES", he went on to reveal something to me that I had never thought about. To say I was stunned is an understatement.

Tovar said, "Coach I haven't won a game since 8th grade. I have not won a game since playing middle school football, coach". I was blown away. That means that Jared, in his fourth year at LHS, has not won a single game since he arrived on campus. It blows me away. When you hear things like that it really drives home the point of what we are trying to rebuild here.

After practice, in our post practice meeting, I had Tovar stand up and tell the team what he had told me. When he was done, I said if you haven't won a game since 8th grade, please stand up. With that we had about 10 players stand up. I was shocked by the amount of player's who had not won a game since 2008. As I said before, this just reinforces everything we are doing and here and what we are working for! We will get these guys the wins that they have worked so hard for. It is just a matter of time!

Practice was ok today. I want to see more intensity tomorrow. Tuesday's are kind off slow, due to install and other factors. Today should be a more energized session.

During practice today we put WR, Bam Jackson up against Coach Willingham for three plays of 1-on-1. Willingham won rep one. Jackson came back and absolutely schooled Willingham on the next two reps. It was a great three-minute period. The players loved it. Like I said, there is nothing wrong with interjecting a little fun into practice. Keep it fresh is the way to operate, in my opinion.

Wednesday is upon us.... Let's see what Wednesday brings...

"The Turnaround": Duane Toliver, Defensive Coordinator


by Jason Strunk

Lubbock Defensive Coordinator Duane Toliver
Photo courtesy of Paul Anderson
When I came into LHS I had no idea who I was going to retain. One guy I am thankful I kept on board is DC - Duane Toliver.

Duane is a high-energy coach who builds solid rapport with our kids. His intensity tunnels through the defense every day in practice and every Friday night. Our defense plays with a tremendous amount of passion. I think last Friday night against Coronado was the best we have looked on D since our arrival. What that tells me is, Coach Toliver and the defense are evolving and growing into the players we need. He has done an outstanding job!

Duane and his family join my family every Sunday night for dinner at our house. The Toliver's bring their kids over to play with our two rugrats as well. It is house full of fun chaos for a couple of hours. I wouldn't have it any other way!

All of us at LHS are lucky to have Duane on our side. Once we get this thing rolling here he will be in-line for a head coaching position somewhere (I just hope I can hang on to him for as long as I can).

Toliver Bio

Coach Toliver (left) getting after it
Photo courtesy of Paul Anderson
Duane Toliver is entering his 13th year of coaching.  He graduated from Knox City High School in 1996.  While at Knox City he was an All State football and basketball player.  He was also the state runner-up in the discus at the State track meet.  He then attended Texas Tech University, where he played collegiate football.  At Texas Tech he was Academic All Big 12.  Upon his graduation from Texas Tech in 1999, Coach Toliver entered the coaching ranks at Slaton Jr. High (1999-2000).  Then he moved to Lubbock-Cooper  (2000-2002) to become the offensive line coach.  He was a part of the staff that led Lubbock Cooper to their first ever berth into the state playoffs.  From Lubbock-Cooper he moved on to Midland Lee (2002-2004) and Shallowater High School (2004-2007).  This will be Coach Toliver’s fifth year at Lubbock High School. Through the years Coach Toliver has coached in countless playoff games and he has coached 10 different division I athletes. 

He and his wife Michelle have two children.  Trajan Duane (7) and Jordyn Kamile (5). 

Editor's Note from Jeff Fisher: Lubbock head football coach Jason Strunk began writing his daily blog on August 29th.  Every post can be read here on this blog and in the coming weeks on our newly redesigned High School Football America website.  In the meantime, to access his older posts or read from the beginning, click here or go to our Blog Archives in the righthand column beneath Follow us on Twitter.  Follow Coach Strunk on Twitter @WestTXCoach

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

"The Turaround": Coach Tull, One of the Boys

by Jason Strunk
Lubbock High School Head Coach


Coach Strunk in action
Photo courtesy of Lubbock Avalanche-Journal 
We started practice off yesterday a little today than usual. OC/OL coach Neal Tull went against some of our players in  a OL/DL pass rush drill. Obvioulsy, nobody had hemets on. Whenever the kids see a coach get involved in a drill they immedialtey become excited. This was the case yesterday. 

I felt it was getting a little stale and boring at practice. I like to mix it up and avoid falling into the same old dull routine. So yesterday, following a tough loss, was a perfect time to switch things up. In my opinion, it was what we needed and the kids responded with a good practice. 72 hours following our loss to Coronado, there are no signs that the game even existed. That is always good news.

The coaching staff this week is focused on raising the expectation levels of practice. Our job is to the show the team that we are not backing off from what we expect from them. Now isn't the time to let up and feel sorry for ourselves. It is time to kick it in high gear and start getting some wins. They will respond. When that first paycheck comes (a win) they will be looking for that check every Friday. It becomes addicting. Our guys haven't experienced that as of yet... but they will. We are very, very close to putting it all together!

Following practice we got a good lift in. We lift three times a week during the season. Our objective is to maintain the max weights they ended the summer with. I never understood why teams would lift all year and then stop when the season starts. If you have a 300lb bencher in August, you want him benching 300 in October too, not 250. Strength training and nutrition are the backbone of everything we do here. I will talk about this a lot over the course of this season. 

Some awards for Coronado game:

Offensive MVP - RB, Brandon Hernandez (200 total yards)
The Black Hammer Award - Safety, Keefe Gallagher (2 weeks in a row)
Special Teams Player - Punter, Dalequoin Love (great job with considering the wind he dealt with).

Later today, I will be putting together the second of our coacing staff features. This week it is going to be Defensive Coordinator, Duane Toliver. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

"The Turnaround": Keepin' it Loose, but Working Hard

by Jason Strunk
Lubbock High School Head Coach


Lubbock Asst. Coach Brandt Martin keeping
it loose on Sunday
Lubbock Asst. Coach Brandt Martin keeping
it loose on Sunday
Sunday funday at Chapman Fieldhouse today. All day, all night, Lubbock Cooper film till your eyes bleed. If you don't love this job you would not survive. This isn't job where you can skate by. You need to be fully committed or you get swallowed up. Sunday's test your patience and dedication, especially following a 7-0 loss.

One of the worse Sunday's ever was when I was at Purdue. The day before Ohio State torched us 49-0. Terrelle Pryor lit up the scoreboard. It was an awful day. However, the next day seemed to be worse. When the AD meets you to watch film following a big loss, it makes your job difficult and uncomfortable. I will never forget that Sunday morning. It is a good thing for my staff here that I have not forgot that Sunday feeling following Ohio State.

I refuse to have an atmosphere like that at Chapman Fieldhouse. Don't get me wrong, I have my bad days (last Saturday was) but they are few and far between.

This Sunday was a good day for us. Good film work, great meetings and determined coaches. We also lightened the mood a little bit. There is nothing wrong with a little humor. We work from about 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. If you don't interject a little humor, you will go crazy.

Brandt Martin (a.k.a. Nitram, which is Martin backwards) is one of the guys on our staff that knows how to keep things light. He is a piece of work (in a good way). Great with kids. Great with the other coaches. His personality fits this staff well. Check out the pictures from yesterday to see how Nitram kept us rolling between meetings.

This is a big week for us. The kids had a great Saturday workout following the loss. Their mental toughness and attitude was right where it needed to be. No signs of self-pity. They want a win and they are going to battled every day until they get it. Great bunch of kids here that want to do well. We are going to keep the pedal to the metal around here. Hard work pays off. We have a big payday around the bend somewhere. 

Tomorrow is our Monday scouting report, meetings, practice and weight training. 

Let' s see what tomorrow brings...

Sunday, September 09, 2012

"The Turnaround": Cooper Week

by Jason Strunk

Saturday

Whether we like it or not, Saturday is a work day for everyone, even following a tough loss. No sense in hanging your head. What is the point in that? Our guys reported at the same time, just like any other Saturday. 9 a.m. they rolled in. Guess what? They were greeted with a smile, pat on the chest and breakfast. Consistency. When you win or lose you need to be consistent. As a staff we are consistent. It is what this program needs.

Sure, we are all stinging. Who wouldn't be? We are invested in this program. Losing hurts. It should hurt. What it shouldn't do is keep you down. Why come in on a Saturday still feeling the emotion of the night before? Get over it. Get started on the next week. 

Life is full of losses. I suffered one of the biggest losses of my life in 1995. It wasn't much fun waking up on January 12, 1995 (as a high school senior) finding out my Mom had died. Just like that 50% of my family was stripped from me. Is that a loss? I think it does qualify as a devastating loss. LIFE losses like that are tough to swallow. I spent about two years feeling sorry for myself. That didn't get me anywhere. All that did was delay the start of my adult life. 

Going through the loss of my Mom made me realize a few things. Number one, life goes on and the world doesn't stop to feel sorry for you. The second thing I learned? Mental toughness and attitude. It is how you go about your daily life that defines you. Nothing will slow me down. 

So when we talk about a football loss, it is not the end of the world to me. Dealing with death taught me how to handle every scenario thrown my way. Saturday morning's after a loss? Please. Been there done that.

The bottom line is, nothing will keep our attitude down and nothing will stand in our way of getting this program right. There are 200 people that look to me every day to get us out of this. I don't have time to feel sorry for myself. My players do not need a leader that cannot handle the tough times.

I love these kids. They are going to get the best of me every day I am the Head Coach at LHS. I will not short-change them! 

Time to get ready for Cooper... It is a Saturday and all I know how to do is work harder.

Let's see what tomorrow brings....

Saturday, September 08, 2012

"The Turnaround": Coronado 7 Lubbock 0

by Jason Strunk
Lubbock High School Head Coach





Coronado Mustangs vs. Lubbock High


Location - Lubbock, TexasStadium - Lowrey Field at Plains Capital Park
Time - 7:30 p.m.
Captains - Joel Rivera, Raleigh Anderson, Keefe Gallagher, Dom Adame

Coin Toss - We want the ball (Coronado won toss and elected to receive).

Westerner Key's to Victory:

1. Start fast
2. Ball security/protect the ball
3. Finish (drives, quarters and the game)


Tidbits
LHS has not beaten Coronado since 1985... The last Westerner victory was on October 23, 2009... We are the home team tonight, but we have elected to wear our white jersey's and black pants... Associate Head Coach David Moody admitted today that he eats at Bonus Burger once a week.

Game Notes

First Half

Coronado started on offense and immediately tried to test us on the first play. They went deep (something you would not expect from them to start the game) and we found ourselves in good position. Erin Lopez, a junior Safety, was playing his deep half cover 2 and was in great position. Lopez broke on the ball and intercepted the pass. The fast start we were looking for was granted to us again. First play from scrimmage and we found ourselves making something happen. 

Unfortunately, we were not able to capitalize on Erin's big play. We drove the ball into Mustang territory, but the offense stalled. Little did I know that this would be the story of the game for us. It seemed like we spent the entire first half driving into Coronado territory. The problem was we could not punch one into the end zone. We shot ourselves in the foot on numerous occasions and Coronado's defense stiffened when it needed to. 

For the first time ever, I found myself going into halftime tied 0-0. In today's game that is unheard of! You have to give credit to both defenses. I think defense is undervalued in this offensive state of my mind we now coach in. We witnessed some great defense in the first half.

Halftime

We felt good heading into halftime. We were going to receive the ball and we felt we could drive down the field and grab the lead. In fact, the way our D was playing I felt one TD would win it. I thought we could do that. I know KJ and his staff also felt good about where they were at too. I am quite certain they also believed that one score by them would win it.

3rd Quarter

We started off moving the ball on our initial drive. We stalled out after crossing midfield. Another frustrating series for us as we could not keep momentum going. Coronado was able to snatch that momentum and grind out the decisive drive of the game. Midway through the 3rd the Mustangs punched one in. The PAT was good and they were up 7-0. 

4th Quarter

We could not sustain any drives. We would drive and come up short. Deep into the 4th we faced a crucial 4th & 5, deep in Mustang territory. We threw a route underneath and it looked like we had a first down. However, the spot came up short and Coronado took over. At this point, the Mustangs could have nailed the door shut on us. Our defense made a stand and forced Coronado to attempt a FG. They have one of the best kickers around. We were staring at 10-0 hole if he hit this. I don't think he got a clean kick on the ball. The kick was short and suddenly we had life. One more chance to make something happen.

When we took over I made the decision that if we scored we were going for 2. Right as the drive started I said it into the headsets. Within a second we already had the 2 point conversion play decided upon. At that moment we felt we were going to score. My grand plan was to score, get the 2 point conversion and get one more stop on D to come out with an 8-7 win. 

We started our drive and you could feel that we were going to make something happen. We had a crucial throw from Layven Armendariz hauled in by Joel Rivera. That kept the chains moving. Suddenly we were into Coronado territory. RB Brandon Hernandez then broke off a long run. The Westerners were in the Red Zone. After a false start and two bungled plays, we faced a long 3rd down conversion. Armendariz hit Bam Jackson on a crossing route and Bam took it all the way down to the 5. We were in business. 

On 1st and goal Hernandez carried the ball down to the 1. There we were. 1 yard away from making this a game and possibly nailing down a win. Hernandez was forced to the sideline after the play because his helmet popped off. That is a MAJOR weapon to remove from the game. On 2nd and goal from the 1, Coronado nailed Armendariz in the backfield. Hernandez entered back in for 3rd and goal from the 4. We gave him the ball, Coronado forced him to bounce and caught him for a loss of 5. Just like that we were looking at 4th and goal from the 9. We went with a 3x1 look. We felt we had leverage to the single receiver side. We threw the fade to Rivera. Coronado's corner made a heck of play and wrestled away an interception. Just like that we were done.

Final score Coronado 7-0. 

Summary

Both teams had opportunities. Coronado capitalized on one and they came away with a "W". It was a frustrating game for us on offense. Duane Toliver put together a great defensive game plan. He had our D rolling. It is a shame we let that effort go wasted.

KJ and I hugged at midfield. Coronado D-Coordinator Mike Meeks and I shared a hug as well. He did an outstanding job. James Vint, my fellow Yankee and Coronado assistant, grabbed me and told me to keep it going, we are on the right track. That is what this game is all about. We lost and it stung. The first people to lift your spirits is the visiting sideline? Unheard of for most, but not when Coronado and LHS hook up in football. It is a great game and it involves relationships that go much deeper than any athletic event can ever match. 

We will bounce back. I know it. The staff knows it. Most importantly, the kids know it. 

Let's see what tomorrow brings...

Friday, September 07, 2012

"The Turnaround": Sleepless in Lubbock

by Jason Strunk
Lubbock High School Head Coach

Coach Strunk's bedding for his office sleep
12:15 a.m. and I am sitting in my office working. Too much to do tonight. I need to finalize my game management sheet. Hydration station and breakfast needed to be prepped. 65 varsity players report at 7:30 a.m. Things need to be up-and-running for them. I cannot rest until I know they are taken care of. It's just how I am.

I am a firm believer in work smarter, not harder. If you can get things done in two hours, that is ideal. I am not from the school of thinking that states you must be in your office tweleve hours a day pretending to work all those hours. We focus on being efficient here. If you want to beat your staff down, keep them twelve hours a day. If you want an energized staff (like we have here) know when to call it a day and be EFFICIENT.

All that being said, here I sit. The bottom line is, sometimes you need to be crazy and get things done. That is the case tonight (or this morning, however you look at it). Too much to do and the day got away from me. I will make up the time now.

I never sleep the night before a game. Tonight is no different. I am "sleeping" at Chapman Fieldhouse tonight. I say "sleeping" because I will not sleep and I will be working. I will lay down when everything is done. I will get as much rest as I need. That is never an issue.

I feel good about what the offensive staff did this week in practice. Neal Tull and Jake Willingham put together a nice plan. Tull graduated and played at Purdue. Obviously, we have a connection. We both share the same run game philosophy. The exciting part now is we added Willingham, who happens to be a disciple of Mike Leach and Dana Holgorsen.  Jake worked with both of those guys. Our offense is a combination of the Purdue running attack and Texas Tech and West Virginia passing concepts. It is a wild and exciting thing for us. I cannot wait for it to take off. 

RB coach Adam Rosales has developed a solid stable of backs that fit our scheme. We can pound it and we can use speed. It is a nice combo. Jinks White has worked the WR's into darn good shape and they are catching the ball really well. In fact, it is the best I have seen us catch the ball! All everything coach Cory Kollister has been the calming force behind the development of QB Layven Armendariz. QB's take a lot of heat (from me) and Kollister does a good job deflecting the heat.

Over on defense, Duane Toliver and his wild bunch of all go, no quit coaches, had a solid week of practice. We are really moving to the football well. Toliver played at Texas Tech, where he was coached by the one-and-only David Moody. Now Toliver is the boss. Talk about turning the tables! All kidding aside, those guys work really well together. Add new DB coach Nathan Jephcott to the mix, and I am really pleased with where we are heading. Jepcott has taken Safeties coach Zach Jones under his wing. Safety Keefe Gallagher has flourished under these two guys. We need a big game from our linebackers. Assignment football is critical. LB coach Bryan Thomas has worked these guys well and I think he has them ready to go.

I am hoping for another solid Special Teams performance tonight. Bryan Roberts (full time SPT coach) has really got those units rolling. We had over 200 return yards last week and nailed every extra point. Very, very pleased.

Add all of this up and I still do not know how this game will turn out. Turn the lights on and let them play. KJ will have them ready. He is such a good coach. Maybe I can hire him away from Coronado before the game tomorrow night? Probably won't happen. I  might have his "daughter"bend his ear on this tomorrow. I will let you know how it turns out!

Let's see what tonight brings...