Thursday, May 01, 2014

High School Football America radio show - May 1st

On this edition of High School Football America, host Jeff Fisher talks with new Claude High School football coach Duane Toliver. Claude HS is a small high school in the Texas Panhandle with about 1,100 residents. 

Also on the show is Chris Salvi, a Chicago high school football coach who is currently playing professional football in Italy for the Torino Giaguari.  Salvi, who walked-on at Notre Dame after not being recruited out of high school, is the defensive coordinator for St. Ignatius High School in Chicago.

Friday, April 11, 2014

2-Minute Drill Podcast - April 11, 2014

Thursday, April 10, 2014

High School Football America radio show - April 10, 2014

On this edition of High School Football America, host Jeff Fisher talks with Bailey Kenter, a punter a Layton Christian Academy in Utah. Kenter hails from Australia and has come to America to pursue his dream of playing Division 1 college football. During his junior year, Kenter was one of the top punters in the nation, averaging over 46 yards a punt. 

Also on the show is Joey Teichert, one of the founders of Southern Sport that produces the Debris Inhibitor Razur. The TDI Razur keeps crumb rubber from Field Turf out of players' shoes. It also gives you the great look of spatting without the high cost of tape.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

High School Football America - April 3, 2014

On this edition of High School Football America, host Jeff Fisher talks with new Broken Arrow (Oklahoma) High School head coach David Alexander, who is a former NFL lineman returning to be the head coach at his alma mater.

Also on the show is Alex Kirby, author of upcoming book Speed Kills: Breaking Down the Chip Kelly Offense. Learn more at

2-Minute Drill Podcast - April 3, 2014

On this edition of the High School Football America 2-Minute Drill podcast, Jeff Fisher talks about a Hawaii high school football coach who has stepped-down after two years on the job and a state championship ring.  Fisher also tells you about six North Carolina schools getting used gear for their practices from the NFL's Carolina Panthers.

Click here to subscribe to our podcast on iTunes.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Football Americano - Game 2

by Chris Salvi
Torino Giaguari, Free Safety
Follow @CSalvi24

Outside of football I was able to enjoy some of what Torino has to offer this week. I visited Reggia della Venaria Reale with head coach Rico Merola and his family.  It is a very large estate right outside the city limits that was the former property of the Savoy family.

The Savoy family ruled over this region of Italy for a greater part of a century.  It was a beautiful home that has hundreds of rooms full of painting and antiques. Lucky for me everything was in Italian and English, so I was able to learn a little bit about 14-19th century Northern Italy.  It may sound boring, if it was for a class or from a book, but when you experience it, it makes it more exciting - my advice, don’t take the class go live it!

The week was up and down for the team; we didn’t have our best preparation. However, we came out on top with a 45-14 victory over Naples.

The first half was completely controlled by us. We ran the ball well and kept their offense shut down. We jumped out to a fast 14-0 lead and continued to keep the game at our tempo. We finished the first half with a two-minute drill touchdown to send the other team to the locker room with their heads down.

We came out the second half swinging, Niles went for a 50-yard reception to the end zone – it was 28-0 early in the third quarter. Although we gave up a pair of touchdowns on defense, it was good opportunity for most of the team to get game experience.

The defense played a solid throughout most of the game, with some let up in the fourth.  On offense it usually increases your chances to win when your running back goes for over 300 yards of total offense with a pair of touchdowns – it’s safe to say Niles was the MVP of this game.

This week we face off with the Bologna Warriors, probably not the strongest team we will face all season.  Bologna has a history of winning, so we know they wont lay down for us. It’s first road game, and I always preferred road games. I enjoyed getting yelled at by the opposing fans and experiencing a new atmosphere. Should be another fun challenge for our team.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Football Americano - Game 1 with a Pick 6

by Chris Salvi
Free Safety, Torino Giaguari
Follow @CSalvi24

We kicked off and our kick coverage team did a great job!  Then our defense stepped up - run play…stuffed.  Another run play, another stuff, followed by a stuff on 3rd down! Three-and-out that forced them to punt and I got my first crack at being a punt returner.

I was able to return the punt for a 12-yard that gave our offense good field position. 

Our offense marched straight down the field and score for a 7-0 lead.

Our second defensive series was much like the first. A pair of run plays that got mauled and then Milan tried to throw a deep pass in my direction. 

The result? My first interception in the IFL!

Friday, March 14, 2014

2-Minute Drill Podcast - March 14, 2014

by Jeff Fisher
Follow @HSFBamerica

Here's the lastest 2-Minute Drill podcast that announces the launch of #FistBumpFriday.  

Every Friday, High School Football America on Twitter will salute players, coaches and teams that are doing great things off the field.  You can tweet us @HSFBamerica and we'll re-tweet your tweet.

On the podcast, we honor Middleburg High School (Florida) head football coach Karl Smeltzer who save a pilot and his passenger after their small plane crashed in Florida on Sunday.

Also on today's podcast, we look at a story from's Steve Spiewak who breaks-down the top scoring states in the country during the 2013 season.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

2-Minute Drill Podcast for March 13, 2014

by Jeff Fisher
Follow @HSFBamerica

Today's High School Football America 2-Minute Drill podcast looks at the latest from Allen, Texas and a report that says they made need to do a "partial teardown" of the Eagles' 2-year old, $60 million stadium.  I also talk about the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association's decision to delay a vote on splitting public and private schools in athletics.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Football Americano - Week 5

by Chris Salvi
Free Safety, Torino Giaguari
Follow @CSalvi24
Chris Salvi's photo from Muzeo Egizio
Started my week off with a visit to the Egyptian museum in Torino called Muzeo Egizio.  It's actually considered one of the best in the world. 

Lots of interesting things to look at and read about throughout the museum.  Not only was it a good time, but it only cost 12 Euros ($12.64)...what a deal! Going to one of the museums or attractions in Chicago usually costs upward of 30 dollars. In case any of you find your way to Torino, I suggest the Egyptian museum.

On to aspect of football that I want to be involved with here in Italy is that of a returner on special teams.  Maybe I wasn’t qualified for that position at Notre Dame, but I am excited to step up to that role here.

Keep up with our daily podcast - High School Football America's 2-Minute Drill

by Jeff Fisher
Follow @HSFBamerica

Hope you enjoyed the first week of our new daily podcast.  

We start Week 2 with news from Sunday's Nike Football Training Camp in Southern California that saw four more players earn invitations to July's The Opening 2014 at Nike World Headquarters in Oregon.  Above you can hear who punched their ticket to Oregon for this year's event that will be held July 5th through the 10th.

Also, on today's podcast, news about a new venue for the 2014 New Hampshire high school football championships.

Don't forget, you can take the 2MD on the go, by subscribing to it on iTunes.  Click here to subscribe for free.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Number of high school football injuries in Texas drops

by Jeff Fisher
Follow @HSFBamerica

KTBC-TV Fox 7 in Austin is reporting that high school football injuries declined for the third straight year in Texas.

According to a report obtain by the station from the University Interscholastic League, the state's governing body for high school sports, there were 3,200 injuries last year - down from 4,000 in 2012. The UIL says there were 12,000 high school football injuries from 2010 through the 2013 season. 

The most common injury was a sprain with concussions being the second most common, but the number of concussion cases also dropped last year.  The report does not cover every school in the state.

The report goes on to say that most injuries occurred during games and not in practice and that most injuries didn't require a trip to the hospital.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Fort Thomas Highlands closes-in on Valdosta on all-time wins list

by Jeff Fisher
Follow @HSFBamerica

If you listened to today's High School Football America 2-Minute Drill podcast, you know that Parkersburg High School in West Virginia is ready to join the exclusive 800 Win Club.  Parkersburg enters 2014 with 799 wins.

Currently there are seven schools in America with 800+ victories, or eight if you go with Easton (Pennsylvania) High School's record-keeping.  According to the school, the Red Rovers won #800 last November, however , the NationalFederation of State High School Association’s official record book has Easton at 786 wins entering next season. 

Valdosta (Georgia) is still at the top of the list with 882 wins, but second-place Fort Thomas Highlands (Kentucky) closed the margin a bit with a 13 win season in 2013 that leaves the Bluebirds' 27 wins behind Valdosta.

All-Time Victories - through 2013 season

Valdosta (Georgia) 882
Fort Thomas Highlands (Kentucky) 855
Louisville Male (Kentucky) 833
Massillon Washington (Ohio) 830
Mount Carmel (Pennsylvania) 820
Mayfield (Kentucky) 819
Canton McKinley (Ohio) 802
Parkersburg (West Virginia) 799
Easton (Pennsylvania) 786
Muskegon (Michigan) 785

Monday, March 03, 2014

High School Football America begins daily podcasts

by Jeff Fisher
Follow @HSFBamerica

With all of the success we've had with the Thursday High School Football America radio show, it seems only natural to expand the brand with a daily podcast.

Below you can listen to our first-ever High School Football America 2-Minute Drill.  Props to our good friend and now intern Greg Gerber in Wisconsin for suggesting the name.

The idea behind High School Football America’s 2-Minute Drill podcast is to give you up-to-the-minute high school football news daily that you can listen to on your computer or on your mobile device since we're free on iTunes and also on 

The High School Football America 2-Minute Drill is brought to you by The Debris Inhibitor Razur. Stop those pesky rubber pellets from Field Turf from getting into your shoes with the TDI Razur that also gives you the great look of spatting without the high cost of tape.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Football Americano - Week 4

by Chris Salvi
Free Safety, Torino Giaguari
Follow @CSalvi24
The fourth week is in the books and the team is only two short weeks from the home opener against the Rhinos of Milan. This week brought some adventure and a chance to learn something new.

First off, I must thank my roommate Niles Mittasch for giving me his Italian book to learn some more words and phrases. I also have to thank him for being very patient with me while I learned how to use our manual car (stick shift).

Some of you may be thinking to yourselves “it’s not that hard.” - yes, yes it is very hard. I have never done it in my life and on top of that it I’m in a crowded European city.

Have you ever been around the roads of a city in Europe? If you haven’t then you cannot understand the difficulty! That said it has been fun and I am glad that now I am starting to get the hang of it.

Niles is a seasoned vet when it comes to using a manual car; he has only stalled the car out one time in a month. That is impressive, given we just got back from Sunday lunch at a friends house and I stalled the car three times.

And the Oscar goes to....Undefeated

by Jeff Fisher
Follow @HSFBamerica

The February 23, 2012 High School Football America radio show was fun for me. I was joined by Dan Lindsay and TJ Martin, the directors of the then Oscar-nominated Undefeated in the category of Best Documentary.

Both guys were extremely excited about walking the red carpet and I was equally as excited to hear them tell the story of how they went from an idea of following the Manassas (Memphis, Tennessee) High School football team during the 2009 high school football season to Hollywood celebs in 2012.  It was even more fun to see their energy on stage holding their golden statues.

In honor of tonight's Oscars, I'm re-posting that fun interview with Dan and TJ that took place three days before becoming the toast of Tinseltown.

To round-out the Cinderella story, I brought the star of the show, Manassas head coach Bill Courtney on the show in January to discuss how his life had changed since Undefeated won the Oscar.  Coach Bill, who retired after the 2009, was just as enjoyable to talk with and you can listen to that interview below.

I'm also looking forward to talking with Coach Courtney later this spring when his first book called Against the Grain is released in May.  

This is how the book is described on Amazon: In Against the Grain, Bill Courtney shares his convictions on the fundamental tenets of character, commitment, service, leadership, civility, and others that, in his decades of success as an entrepreneur and educator, have proven to be the keys to a winning and meaningful life and career. Each chapter tells the story of one of these tenets through compelling anecdotes of the colorful characters in Bill’s life, leading to a deeper understand of the meaning of each and how to employee these fundamentals in all aspects of one’s life. Against the Grain intertwines inspiring and thought-provoking anecdotes, lessons, and amazing real life examples. Bill’s passion for us all to reconsider our own approach to life and constantly improve upon it comes across on every page.

How far has the humble Coach Bill come from 2009?  Phil Jackson, the Zen master himself, wrote the forward.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Football Americano - Week 3

by Chris Salvi
Free Safety, Torino Giaguari
Follow @CSalvi24
I have to start this week’s recap with a few thank you’s.

Dario, the announcer for the Torino Giaguari, fixed us up with hundreds of TV channels - plenty of them are in English so I am able to keep up with what’s going on.

Second, coming through in the clutch was Frank Cerra our team manager. After reading my complaint about the lack of peanut butter that I mentioned in last week’s blog, he brought me a jar of peanut butter.

Lastly, thanks to Rossana (wife of my head coach), who has not only cooked Niles Mattisch (my only American teammate) and I meals at her home, but made us pasta twice this week! Actually one of those pasta night’s came right when I ran out of food, so it was perfect timing.  It’s hard to beat that Italian hospitality!

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Other Side of the Lens: Amp Up Videos

by Greg Gerber
Greenfield High School Video Coordinator & Wide Receivers Coach
Follow @CoachMitts

Amp-up videos are a very important part of football.  We use them to get the blood flowing and the adrenaline cranked up.  After all, don’t we all share the guilty pleasure of combing through YouTube trying to find videos that showcase big hits, amazing catches or plays where the running back breaks 24 tackles and does a flip at the end?  Well now you, too, can make your own amp up video using the team’s Hudl account (and your own athletes’ amazing plays).  Welcome to Amp-up Video Creation 101!  Follow these simple instructions to showcase your team and get them pumped for the following week’s game! 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Miami Dolphins play ringer-bearers for Booker T. Washington football team

Photo courtesy of

by Jeff Fisher
Follow @HSFBamerica

The NFL's Miami Dolphins are making Booker T. Washington's (Florida) championship 2013 season a little more special.

On Wednesday, according to the Miami Herald, Dolphins CEO Tom Garfinkel presented the team with a $23,000 check to buy its championship rings.  Booker T. was ranked #1 in the nation by several national media outlets.  The Tornadoes finished #3 in the High School Football America rankings.

On hand for the check presentation ceremony were former Dolphins Nat Moore and Pro Football Hall of Famer Larry Little, who is a graduate of Booker T. Washington.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Football Americano - Week 2

by Chris Salvi
Free Safety, Torino Gaguari
Follow @CSalvi24 
Chris Salvi's Italian pro football contract includes free pizza
Week 2 of pro football in Italy started-off in a bit of a fog, because it was hard to turn down a new teammate, who was determined to show me a good time last Sunday.  It’s not my usual style to have a crazy non-stop weekend like last weekend, let alone on a Sunday! It was fun, but I paid for it - going to have to slow down a little on this aspect of the experience.

It was a week loaded with football - four practices and three workouts.  Tuesday was the first day we practiced. It was a beautiful night in Torino. The weather here is nice for February, especially compared to what I am used to in Chicago or South Bend. 

On Tuesday, the defense started to really get down the schemes with a few minor mistakes. Some of those mistakes were on my part. The plays are called in Italian using mostly numbers and colors. “Dodici” (twelve) is screamed out for the blitz part of the play. All that my brain hears is the “Do” and it leaves out the other part.  The other part, “doci”, would change how I cover, so needless to say, it went very wrong. 

The Other Side of the Lens: Offseason Video Work

by Greg Gerber
Greenfield High School Video Coordinator and Receivers Coach
Follow @CoachMitts

In today’s insanely fast-paced world, football season seems to go by in the blink of an eye.  Starting with summer camp in July, it’s full boar until November/December brings on the state championship games.  Warp-speed is the nature of our sport, but (as we’ve all come to learn at one point or another) intense focus at season start is what makes or breaks a team.

As the hot summer sun scorches our field, camp gets underway. It’s the beginning of new season and there’s a lot of work, sweat and excitement – as well as a lot of forgetting everything they learned the year before. Which is utterly frustrating because coaches build from the basics - we lay the building blocks of our systems in the fundamentals we preach the entire year.  But what if we could eliminate how much time we spend on teaching the elementary principles of football at the beginning of camp?

Friday, February 14, 2014

High School Football America radio show - February 13, 2014

On this edition of High School Football America, host Jeff Fisher talks with Lubbock head football  coach Jason Strunk about the ups-and-downs of the 2013 season that included Strunky suffering some serious health issues on the sidelines during a game in September.  The west Texas coach also discusses his High School Football America blog called The Turnaround.  

Fisher's second guest is Pennsylvania Hall of Fame high school football coach Jim Tkach talking about his upcoming Nike Coach of the Year Clinic in Allentown, Pennsylvania that will feature top-notch college football coaches: Jimbo Fisher of national champion Florida St.; James Franklin of Penn St.; Paul Chryst of Pitt; Paul Rhoads of Iowa St. and Pete Lembo of Ball St.  The Allentown clinic will be held February 27th through March 1st.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Chris Salvi - First Week of Football Americano

Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of blogs that will be written by Notre Dame graduate Chris Salvi, who is playing his first year of professional football in the Italian Football League (IFL) with the Torino Gaguari - Jaguars in English.  The IFL allows teams only two American football players.  Salvi, who is 5-10, 180 pounds, plays free safety.  What makes Salvi's story interesting is the fact that he was, in his words, "a Zero-Star" recruit who, a la Rudy, walked-on at Notre Dame.  Unlike, Rudy Ruettinger, Salvi played a lot as a star special teams performer for the Fighting Irish.  By his senior season, Salvi was awarded a scholarship by head coach Brian Kelly.

High School Football America has asked Salvi to give our readers an inside look at his Italian journey throughout the 2014 season that begins in March after a month-long training camp.  Below is his first entry.  You can also learn more about Salvi by listening to our interview with him before he left America on his journey.

by Chris Salvi
Free Safety, Torino Gaguari
Follow @CSalvi24 

Downtown Torino, Chris Salvi Twitter pic
To give a quick background on myself I grew-up in the north suburbs of Chicago and played football at Carmel Catholic High School. I went on to play a year at Butler University then transferred to the University of NotreDame where I walked-on to the football team. What makes my story even a little more interesting is that I now play professional football…. in Italy for the Torino Gaguari (Jaguars in English). Yes, they have American football in Italy and other countries around Europe.  So I went from playing most of my college career for free to now being paid to play, with the compensation of PIZZA!

My journey began at O’Hare Airport in Chicago on January 31st, where I finally got to meet my teammate Niles Mittasch in person. Niles is the only other American on the team and played running back at the University of Oregon.  Two flights and twelve hours later we arrived in Torino, Italy. 

The greetings by Roberto (president of the Gaguari), Rico (head coach) and Frank (team manager) gave a small taste to how different we are from Italians - a kiss on both sides of the face from each of them. 

They took us to our new home where I was in for a few surprises. 

First, they don’t use clothes dryers, so you have to hang the clothes to get them to dry out. I don’t like doing laundry to begin with, so that wasn’t a good surprise! Next was the TV, as a snob, I was hoping there would be some channels in English.  There's one channel and it is MTV. That is probably my least favorite channel, so I find myself eating breakfast while watching the cooking channel. These are just two examples of the differences I have seen in the first week.

After a day and a half of getting settled in, it was time for practice. To my likening the practices are run with efficiency. They have a practice plan every single day and we waste little time going from drill-to-drill. However, there are moments when a discussion of a scheme can get a little long.  

The communication between players and coaches is much different then we Americans know. In our experiences we are used to being told what to do while only asking direct questions. Italians, on the other hand, discuss with the coaches at length about schemes, plays, or techniques. 

Italians are a passionate people that enjoy talking and although I don’t understand a single thing they are debating, it is easy to tell when it gets heated, which is actually refreshing to see. I always want players and coaches to be heavily invested in what they are doing, and it’s clear that they are. 

To give you an idea about the players, our linebackers average about 220lbs. By no means are the players small, but the skill level and knowledge of the game is not like the D1 college level. Plenty of very talented Italian players are sprinkled in to make it competitive.

After a week of a couple practices and gym sessions, the weekend arrived. Italians LOVE the weekend and that’s an understatement.  Some of the players took us out to the bar that is own by one of the coaches. They introduced me to a few Italian drinks I have never heard of and we engaged in some football conversation. 

I am lucky to find that most of the players are able to speak English well, but there are plenty of  moments when we have no idea what each other is saying. I must also point out that the women in Italy are beautiful, but the language difference makes it difficult to hold a full conversation, and it makes it that much more fun.

The first week in Italy has been interesting and exciting. These are just a few snippets to my overall football Americano experience so far.  I already feel I could write a chapter of a book.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Former Giants' LB Antonio Pierce named new Long Beach Poly head coach


by Jeff Fisher
Follow @HSFBamerica

Antonio Pierce, who played nine years in the NFL with the Giants and the Redskins, is the new head football coach at Long Beach Poly.

Pierce, who was introduced to the media today, becomes the 25th coach of the Jackrabbits, who have been playing football for 106 years.  Pierce takes over for Raul Lara, who resigned at the end of last season after leading the school to a record five CIF-SS titles and an overall record of 142-30.

Pierce, who is native of Compton, played his prep football at Paramount High. After high school, he went on to Mt. San Antonio College before moving on to Arizona. He was undrafted, but had a successful professional career making the Pro Bowl in 2006. He was a starter on the Giants' Super Bowl team in 2007.

While addressing the media, Pierce, who's son will be a junior on the team this year, said he will continue with his ESPN analyst duties.  You can hear his comments about commuting to ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut and topics in the video above.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Building a Tradition by Brian Wical: Top 30 things I Learned as a 1st Year Head Coach - Part 1

by Brian Wical
Follow @CoachWical

Originally when I had the idea of sharing all of the lessons that I learned this season, I wanted to rank everything, 1-30. However, I soon discovered after brainstorming topics, it was too hard to actually list them in any kind of order, ranking one ahead of another. Therefore, I am just going to write about each one in the order that I came up with them. 

Some of these topics you may read the topic of the lesson and say: “no kidding”. My advice to that is: you don’t truly realize everything that is going to face you, until you have faced it. Meaning, on the outside looking in, you may think you have prepared for all situations that may come up during the season. However, I can tell you, once the season starts, things happen that catch you off guard or in the “heat of battle”. Looking back, you may want to approach some of those situations differently next time. I can tell you, that surely happened to me this year, and I hope you enjoy my list of lessons learned and advice from the first year of being a head coach.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

MaxPreps honors California's St. John Bosco as #1 in the nation


by Jeff Fisher
Follow @HSFBamerica

There is no shortage of national ranking folks out there these days.  Even I decided to dip my toe into the pool a couple of years ago with a High School Football America Top 25.

In my mind though, MaxPreps has done the best job through the years with two different types of polls - one an opinion poll, the Xcellent 25, headed by my good friend Steve Spiewak and the Freeman Rankings that use a non-biased computer program to determine team rank.

This past season, St. John Bosco came out on-top in the Freeman Rankings and this past Monday, representatives of MaxPreps traveled to Bellflower to honor the Braves and head coach Jason Negro as part of the website's Tour of Champions journey around America.

High School Football America Radio Show - January 30, 2014

On this edition of High School Football America, host Jeff Fisher talks with Mike Pettine, the legendary Pennsylvania high school football whose son, Mike Jr. was hired last week as the head coach of the NFL's Cleveland Browns. 

Mike Sr. retired in 1999 as the head coach at CB West. At the time of his retirement, Pettine had his team on a 45-game win streak with three straight Class AAAA state titles. Pettine's lifetime record was 326-42-4 with the Bucks. The 1999 season featured a face-off between dad and son when Mike Jr. was the head coach at nearby North Penn High School. Dad's team was ranked #1, while his son's team was #2 when they met during the regular season. Dad won that match-up 17-7. Two week's later dad prevailed again when they met in the playoffs. In five match-ups as opposing head coaches, dad was a perfect 5-0.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Mike Pettine from high school football coach to the leader of the Cleveland Browns

by Jeff Fisher
Follow @HSFBamerica

I guess I'm getting old.


I'm beginnig to take great pleasure in talking like my grandfather with that “back in the good ole' days” stuff.

Well, yesterday, I got a big smile on my face and got nostalgic when I heard that Mike Pettine, Jr. - yes I said Junior - was named head coach of the Cleveland Browns.


Well, Mike's dad, Mike Sr. (now you understand the junior thing) is one of the best head football coaches and molders of men that I've had the pleasure to know in my 40+ years of covering high school football.

Coach Pettine...and I'd never call him Mike...built one of the best high school football programs I've ever had the pleasure to cover, the Central Bucks West Bucks - CB West for short.  West is located in the Borough of Doylestown, 27 miles north of Philadelphia in beautiful Bucks County.

In 33 years as the head coach of the Bucks, Coach Pettine amassed an incredible record of 326-42-4 with four Pennsylvania Class AAAA titles.  When he retired in 1999, he was the state's winningest coach, handing over a 45 game win streak to his assistant Mike Carey, who then extended it to a then state-record 59 straight during the 2000 season.  Coach Pettine was no stranger to streaks, from 1984 to 1989 his Bucks won 55 straight that was then one-game shy of the state record.

I can still recall, sometime in the late 90’s, Coach Pettine pulling me to the side at War Memorial Stadium before a game to tell me that he appreciated everything I was doing to promote high school football through a television show I created called The Big Ticket, which turned 20 years old last season.  I also remember worrying before he spoke to me that he was going to give me a critique that would make me and the show better…because that’s what legendary coaches do.

Coach Pettine is a special man, who now at 73 years old, loves to talk all-day long about football, which is what the two of us will do on next week’s radio show.

I never saw Mike Jr., play in high school for his dad in the 80’s, but I’m sure there would have been plenty to tell about the two-way starter who was all-state as a quarterback and defensive back for the Bucks. After graduating from CB West, Mike Jr. went to play free safety at the University of Virginia.

The Pettine/Pettine coaching story began in the mid 80’s when the son worked for his dad as an assistant after graduating college. The thing I remembered the most about Mike Jr. in his high school coaching days was his intensity, which I could have spelled with all caps – he was flat out intense.  And, while I haven’t been face-to-face with Mike Jr. since the 2000 season when he was the head coach at North Penn in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, I doubt that he’s any less intense as he takes over the Cleveland Browns.  

If you want an up-close look at Mike Jr., try to find the 1999 documentary The Season, which aired on ESPN way before Hoover’s Two-a-Days on MTV in 2006.  I remember plenty of bleeps and joking with Mike Jr. after the show aired that he probably set a ready for bleeps in a television show.

The intensity is a common thread that I remember between father and son.  I also know that both men during those high school years were able to bring out the best in the young men they coached and knew how to game plan an opponent.

Mike Carey, who I mentioned earlier for taking over CB West after Coach Pettine retired in 1999, echoed those same sentiments about Mike Jr. in an interview he did with the Bucks County newspaper The Intellegencer, “I remember Mike being a water boy at CB West. He had a great career at CB West and a very good career at (the University of) Virginia. He’s got all of his father’s attributes — extreme intelligence and such intensity and the ability to bring the most out of people.”

After leaving his assistant's job at CB West, he took a graduate assistant position at the University of Pittsburgh.  Mike Jr. climbed-out from under dad’s shadow by taking his first head coaching job at William Tennent High School, just down the road for dad’s juggernaut of a program.  Tennent wasn’t really known for its football program, but at 28 years old, it was the first step toward becoming an NFL head coach.

This is what Tennent athletic director Mike Devitt said the day that he hired the younger Pettine in 1995 -  "Mike's football knowledge, presentation of self, energy and enthusiasm made him the clear choice.”

Prior to Pettine taking over the program, William Tennent had won three games in three years, including a 2-9 mark in 1994.  In his first year as the Panthers’ head coach, Mike Jr. led the school to a respectable 5-7 record, which was the team’s best record since 1990.  He followed that up with a 9-3 record in 1996, which still stands as the school’s record for wins in a season.

A little know fact is that Mike Jr. had a better record then dad at the two year marks in their careers.  Dad was 11-9 in his first two season, while son was 14-10.

Just like his father’s teams, Mike Jr.’s teams were disciplined and hard hitting as you can see from the 1996 highlights at the top of this story.

Things really got interesting in 1997 when Mike Jr. was hired by North Penn, which put dad and son on a collision course for Suburban One League supremacy and also at the holiday dinner table.

Mike Jr. took North Penn to new heights while he was the leader of the Knights from 1997 through 2001.  The younger Pettine led North Penn to a 45-15 mark with a third of those losses coming against dad.

Yes, father always knew best when he went head-to-head against his son.  Five times Mike Jr. faced-off with dad and all five times he lost.

“My foundations still goes back to my dad,” Pettine Jr. said at his introductory press conference. “He was a guy that, to me, just understood football from A-Z. He wasn’t an offensive specialist, a defensive specialist; he was just pure football through and through.


“Playing for him was a rough experience. I really wanted to get away from football after I was done playing for him, but after a while ended up circling back and just fell in love with the game. That’s what I’m most passionate about and it’s something that, again, he gave me the advice that I think a lot of good parents give: Find a job that you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. I’ve been fortunate to pair my passion with my profession.”

For those pointing out that the Browns new head coach hasn’t been a head coach since leaving North Penn in 2001, understand that William Tennent wasn’t a good program before Pettine and North Penn would be described as a mediocre program.  Mike Jr. knows how to build, and the fact that he’s worked his way up through the NFL coaching system by starting at the bottom with the Baltimore Ravens as a coaching assistant for quality control, breaking down video and helping to develop playbooks and build scouting reports shows that he respects the system.  His first NFL job was definitely at the lowest rung on the NFL job ladder.


The dad/son rivalry hit fever pitch with the earlier mentioned The Season on ESPN, which chronicled the 1999 season that began with dad (CB West) and son (North Penn) ranked #1 and #2 going into the season. Dad was #1 thanks to a 30-game win streak and back-to-back Class AAAA state titles.


Father and son met twice during that glorious 1999 season, once during the regular season and once in the playoffs.  Dad won both – 17-7 on November 5th and 21-0 two weeks later.


How did dad sum-up those victories in The Season?


"I drank champagne, but it tasted like vinegar."


On a much happier note for the two, dad joined his son as an assistant at North Penn in 2001.