The Way I See It: Vol. 4

In the fourth edition of Coach Carey’s blog, ‘The Way I See It,’ the former coach takes a look at the season as it enters week six. He also addresses the present playoff format that forces teams advancing deep into the post-season to play as many as 18 games in a season. Going into week six of the season, are there any big surprises in terms of teams, or is the season developing the way you thought it would?
Coach Carey: It’s really developing the way I saw it in pre-season. High school is very predictable with knowing who has talent coming back and factoring in the coaching staffs and the program’s history. At this stage, I feel the top six teams in District One are North Penn, Pennsbury, Abington, Ridley, Downingtown West and Neshaminy in that order. Others that I feel are playoff bound and could beat a top-ranked team on a given day are Quakertown, Downingtown East, Council Rock South and possibly Council Rock North, Hatboro and Souderton. Talk about some of the big games you have seen the past two weeks
Coach Carey: First, I watched a great Abington vs. Neshaminy game on video from two weeks ago - two very good teams with tons of firepower on offense. Abington jumped to a 28-10 lead with great passing from Sam Kind (over 200 yards) to Anthony Hensley (14 catches, 190 yards) and timely runs by tailback Julien Ireland (close to 100 yards). Then late in the fourth quarter, Neshaminy erupted to close to 28-24 with 4 minutes to go.
Abington took the ball over at its own 35 after Neshaminy’s kickoff went out of bounds…and can you believe that the Ghosts fumbled on the first play!!!! Neshaminy had the ball at midfield with 3 minutes to go and a WIN IN SIGHT. Neshaminy then proceeded to fumble it back to Abington. The Ghosts go nowhere and set up to punt on fourth down. Neshaminy blocks it!!! The Redskins take over at Abington’s 35. Neshaminy completes a pass to the Abington 20 and then throwing towards the end zone has it picked off to seal the victory for Abington.
Wow, what a game!
I wasn’t crazy about either team’s defense, but in crunch time, the Abington “D” stepped up to the plate and sealed the victory. Two top teams…not so sure if they play again the score isn’t reversed in favor of Neshaminy. Great win for Coach Sorber and the Abington staff, tough loss for Coach Schmidt…but Neshaminy will rebound.
Saw Souderton vs. Pennridge live at Poppy Yoder Field this past Friday night. I was very impressed with Souderton. They were happy to welcome back Derek Brown (RB, Safety) and Andrew Coyle (RB, Linebacker) to their line-up after injuries and what a difference it made. Souderton’s wing “T” offense was diverse and featured an array of running backs led by Derek Brown.
Also, I was very impressed by Souderton defensive coordinator Barry Benfield - and the array of multiple defenses he presented to Pennridge. From 4-3 cover “3”, to 43 cover “2” to 44 Cover “3” and then 43 man with tons of blitzes. He even jumped to a 5 man front…all of which helped confuse the blocking schemes of Pennridge. That plus the superior quickness of Souderton’s defense just totally shut down the Pennridge offense. If Souderton builds on this win and continues to improve (huge game vs. Hatboro this week), the Indians could be a playoff contender.
Also saw Pennsbury vs. CR North on film.Pennsbury again isn’t flashy but has more team speed than they’ve had in the past. With Eric Williams, Brandon Pepper, Dante Devine and Joe Brown, they have speed to burn while running their POWER wing “T”. Having University of Pittsburgh signee Eric Williams, Pennsbury has the big receiver to keep defenses honest. Their offensive line is huge, and most players go ONE WAY. Pennsbury is a quality team, coached by Galen Snyder and has both toughness and grit. The game was never in doubt as Dante Devine returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for a TD. CR North fought hard but rarely threatened.
I must say that I’m so impressed with CRN senior Lee Marvel (LB, RB) as a football player. Cut out of granite, Lee is one tough player!.... making tackles sideline to sideline and then doubling as the running back and making slashing runs….this is a guy that could of played on any of the great CB West and North Penn teams I coached. Just a stud! Hatboro came up with a big win over Quakertown. Thoughts?
Coach Carey: Yes, huge win for the Hatters. I saw Hatboro play great in their loss to Neshaminy. They are well coached by Dave Sanderson and they are just physically tough…fly to the ball defensively. Also got some huge D-lineman and Kevin James is one of the top linebackers in the Delaware Valley. Winning at Quakertown’s field is NO easy task……!
As for Q-town, as I stated before, they will score on everyone, but their successes and failures will be determined by their defense and their ability to STOP PEOPLE. In this game, Hatboro had big success running the football and keeping the Q-town offense off the field. Hatboro plays Souderton this week in a must-win for both teams to extend their playoff hopes. I still feel sure that Q-town will make the playoffs. CB South played North Penn very tough two weeks ago. Thoughts?
Coach Carey: Yes, I broadcast the NP vs. South game for WNPV.  NP was as flat as I’ve ever seen a Dick Beck coached team. South played tough….Defensive Coordinator Coach Tony Romeo had South in many multiple fronts, showing 40’s, 50’s and 60 fronts with tons of blitzes. That was a smart move, knowing he could not play straight up with their normal defensive looks. Romeo had a “GAME PLAN”…THAT’S WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT. It’s why Generals in the army plot before battles and win when they are outnumbered. Hats off to Coach Romeo from South…
I rarely see defensive coach’s game plan totally for an opponent’s offense. I mean ADJUSTING to formations, down + distance, personnel, film tendencies and game status. It’s a lost art in high school today. Where have all the great defenses gone?? Everyone spends hours a week working on their offense...putting in new plays, formations, personnel groups, checks. Defensively, what I see time and time again from high school teams…. Is the same defense every week (as a General, you’d love to know where the enemy is….same with offensive coordinators). No adjustment to formations, getting outflanked, having defensive ends in 7 techniques and little corners playing contain, letting top receivers come clean off the line, letting receivers catch pass after pass with no defensive adjustment, playing zone instead of man inside your own 20 (This isn’t college or pro where you have 12 defensive practice hours a do you cover the crossing route here?) and maybe most importantly poor tackling. I could go on and on.
Basically, most high schools work 70 percent offense, 30 percent defense. Behind the scenes, many high schools run base defense and try to adjust to everything from there. Well there are weaknesses to every “D” and there is not an “O” coordinator around that doesn’t smile when he sees that he can outflank and out-man a defense at the point of attack. I could go on further and will at a later date….because the obvious question is…OK, HOW DO WE SHUT DOWN OR SLOW DOWN A HIGH POWERED OFFENSE. Enough of the rant!!
North Penn took a 7-7 tie at halftime and cranked it up a notch to win 27-7. Not a great performance by any means. North Penn should use this as a lesson……they must play with emotion because they are not good enough (yet!) to win by just showing up. What about the teams that are out of the playoff race early in the season?
Coach Carey: I think all coaches, both men and women that coach at the high school level coach for a multitude of reasons. The love for being competitive and winning is one big reason, but there’s no doubt that the development of young kids is just as important and always was at the forefront of programs I was involved in.
Surely, a good coach in any program does not coach for the money. We figured it out one year - it comes out to about 25 cents an hour for the amount of time we invested in the program, so you do it for the development of young boys. They’re a great age to mold, so I think there are a lot of lessons to be taught in a season where maybe your original goal to make the playoffs is now unattainable.
The first thing is – let’s keep improving, let’s keep learning to fight and get better through adversity. Of course, there’s the age-old question – do we start building for next year? I think there’s some of that that goes on. I’m not saying you should supplant your older veterans, but you surely need to start looking at your young kids, and you may start sprinkling some young talent in there to get them ready for the following year. But the bottom line is – let’s develop a program that gives young men and women a great experience, an experience where they learn and can take these values and experience into their lives. I know my life has been shaped by my father, my coaches and my sports’ experience. We coaches have a tremendous tool to help and influence teenage kids. What is your opinion about the playoff field that includes 16 teams from District One?
Coach Carey: I have never seen it more playoff-friendly than it has been the last couple of years with the advent of 16 teams entering the playoffs from District One. I just think it’s totally ridiculous. I think it’s watered down – 16 teams getting in with teams at 5-5 and 6-4. I would really like to see them go back to an eight-team playoff field at the most where you have the top teams playing. Also, I think adding another game and making it a 16-game schedule to the State Final is foolish.Granted, one team a year gets to go the full 16 games, but when you look at it – everyone has two scrimmages, and if you’re top-flight program and you play deep into the season, counting the scrimmages, you’re playing 13, 14, up to 18 games a season. I just know it creates some problems that I encountered both as a coach and with my players over the course of four or five seasons in a row when C.B. West was getting deep into the playoffs.
At C.B. West, we had one year where the kids were just so burned out. It might have been ’93 when we got into the playoffs – our kids at C.B. West actually took a vote because there were so many rumors going around that a lot of our kids did not want to go into the playoffs because of the length of the off-season program and going deep into the playoffs the year before.
If you look at it – if you’re a team like North Penn, Neshaminy, Pennsbury, etc., you’re going to be playing 14, 15 or 16 games every year(with scrimmages), and if you do that, in the course of two or three years, you’ve played an extra season, and it wears on coaches, it wears on players. It’s just too long of a season, and now they’ve made it one game longer.
You look at a 16-game season like Bethlehem Liberty had last year – they had two scrimmages, so they’re playing 18 games. An 18-game season for a high school kid is just not right.
At C.B. West, we went four years in a row of playing 15-game seasons when they had 10-game seasons. We went all the way to the state final four years in a row, so at the end of three years, we had played 45 games. At the end of four years, we had played 60 games. Where a normal team would be playing 40 – we played 20 more games over the course of four years, and it really took its toll on the players who were in the program for two or three years and the coaches. There was very, very big burnout effect.
On the flip side, I wouldn’t trade those years or the year at North Penn when we went 15-0 for anything in the world, so it is a tradeoff, but I think adding that extra game is ridiculous.
On another note, I want to thank everyone from coaches, parents and fans who have called or written me with support. I’ll continue to break down games, players and coaching techniques with the upmost competence.
That’s it…keep the e-mails coming to I’ll answer all your questions with an honest answer. Until later...keep the hits coming. There’s no game in America like High School Football.