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.