As you read this Sunday morning, or Sunday afternoon, or Sunday night, a high school football coach likely will be preparing for Friday’s football game.
And not just one coach. Entire staffs of coaches.
What it takes to coach high school football is more than practice during the week, more than crucial game-time decisions or even planning the music for the hour of pre-game warm-ups.
What it takes to coach high school football is hours and hours of preparation, seven days a week.
Conway Springs coach Matt Biehler can’t give the exact hours that his coaching staff meets for practice and game preparation.
But it’s a lot.
Biehler tries to make sure it’s not a seven-day-a-week job, but, like most programs, it usually turns out to be. He tries to make Sundays a day with no planned meetings — Biehler calls it faith/family day — but that means spending Saturday in coaches meetings from 8 a.m. until late afternoon or early evening or even midnight.
Even on Sundays, though, coaches watch video and prepare at home at times. If it’s a short week in the playoffs, there’s probably an afternoon meeting.
“It takes that amount of time,” Heights coach Rick Wheeler said. “You’ll compete against guys who are doing it. Every program is in a difference place. I know it seems like from the outside looking in, it’s a wonderful, easy place. As hard as it is to get here, it’s harder to stay.”
It’s a fine line from complete submersion into preparation for football and striving to make sure everyone spends some time with their families. Coaches’ families are a special sort because they do understand the hours and know that it takes their husbands or dads away from them.
So coaches look for ways to involve families.
Garden Plain coach Brad McCormick wants his coaching staff to ensure family comes before football.
Northwest coach Steve Martin and Wheeler attend church on Saturday evening so their Sunday mornings are free for meetings and preparation. But Wheeler said if a coach can only go to church on Sundays, he’ll just show up after it’s finished.
Martin schedules in his family time on the weekend. So a Saturday schedule is: at Northwest by 7 a.m. Saturdays, watch video with athletes at 9, statistics, home for family time from 1 p.m.-5 p.m. and church at 5:30. At 8 p.m. he’s back working on the next game.
North coach Kelley Sayahnejad uses a schedule similar to what he experienced as an assistant to Mulvane coach Dave Fennewald. If everything can be done in six days, great.
Since coaches can watch practice and game video at home, that has allowed him more freedom to spend time with his wife and his 1-year-old son.
Most coaches surveyed also work to make sure everyone watches their kids’ activities. If your child has a game, you go. Come in afterward.
Other than that, coaches are constantly game-planning, breaking down video, working to get a step ahead of that week’s opponent.
Maize had its share of excitement, too, as Connor Lungwitz found Kendall Stewart for a 43-yard touchdown pass to win as time expired over Salina Central.