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Let's talk about the Highlands Football State of The Union

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22 hours ago, ATLCat said:

A complete outsider's perspective:

Highlands just seems to be lacking those "DUDES" like their championship teams of the past. When I think of vintage Highlands I think of a quality Oline that is big but not huge. I think of a load of interchangeable skill players. An extremely sound tackling defense that doesn't miss assignments. Then I picture a stud QB who extends plays, either a hard running HB or a dominant WR who they use on jet sweeps, and then that one anchor up front on both sides of the ball who takes over every game.

Right now Highlands just seems to be a generic team without those stars.

In the 90's, 2000's, and 2010's there was about two or three household names on those teams every year that even the most casual fan from other areas even could name. I feel like I follow HS football pretty well and I am not sure I can name you a single Highlands player off the top of my head.

Now how did Highlands get here?

Has the exclusivity of living in the Ft. Thomas- Highlands school district hurt the ability for former stars and alumni to move back and let their kids play there? Has it hurt the ability for families to move in at the feeder level because they know it is a great program and will give their kids a better chance at success? Highlands folk love talking about how hard it is to move into that District, maybe this is backfiring a bit?

 

I see a thread about Cam Hergott being in the Mr. Football debate. What kept him from being at Highlands? That's "THE DUDE" you needed, maybe addressing why Herogtt is leading Beechwood to State Titles may help address why Highlands also isn't competing for titles of their own.

Is it the feeder system? It seemed up until a couple years ago Highlands was very content with keeping it local in regards to their feeder system and were not competing in the Middle School State Tournaments or playing teams from around the state like some of the other prominent programs that have in the midst of bumper crops of success. It might be that the fish in the pond with Highlands have simply gotten bigger while Highlands has been content staying the same.

 

It is simply a numbers game. Back 6-7 years ago the FTJFL had over 350 kids playing football. Today the number is around 175 3rd-8th. Just numbers! We can't pick and choose when we can and can't play Internal or play in a Outside league.

Listen I have been coaching 7th/8th football now in Ft Thomas for 18 years. Yes, we would love to make sure we developed more kids at more positions by doing it completely ourselves like years past. However we can't pick and choose when we can do that. We either have to be all in or all out.

Choosing to play Internally in 2019 and then playing in the Middle School League in 2020 and then back to Internally in 2021 doesn't sit well with other Leagues counting on our Commitment year in and year out.

We could of had 4-7th/8th teams in 2020 and played Internally with a 9 games schedule like years past. 38-8th graders and 54-7th. Also in 2021 with a projected number of 80 we could of also did 4 Teams. But in 2022 we would of fell back to about 40-50 kids between the 2 grades Max. We do consider forecast and Class size.

The current 7th class is the largest in District history with almost 300 kids. So it's a Chess game each year when we try to figure out what direction is best for the kids. Unfortunately we don't have a current Head Coach that visits the Kids in the Elementary schools like Dale did and get the Kids excited about playing football. Have you ever heard Dale Mueller's sales pitch? It's not your ordinary talk. The current Coach doesn't feel like it's his job to do so. I know that 1st hand. He only gets involved when asked or told to. And those are Facts!

Anyone is welcome to come sit at a FTJFL board meeting to discuss their frustrations on how we run our League. We are all open ears!

 

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13 hours ago, El Diablo said:

I always thought the Fort Thomas Jr Football League's strength was focusing on learning, participation and retaining as many kids as possible. Not traveling and competitiveness. That's why Highlands has had so many kids that know football. They weren't chased away because only 2 kids get the ball out of 40. When you focus on the competitiveness that young you burn kids out, chase them out. That strategy misses out on late bloomers and hard workers. Fort Thomas used to keep it light and fun and teach the fundamentals and make sure every kid got some time. Sometimes that kid that only plays in the 2nd quarter develops into your star running back. Sometimes the kid on the competitive team that gets the ball every play doesn't even play football by the time he is a sophomore.  I've seen exactly that happen. The Ft Thomas league was set up to win when they're 18, not when they're 12.  My friends kid who is pretty good was about to quit because they traveled out to Boone Co to play and he didn't get in one play. I know, I know exactly what you are thinking.... it doesn't sound very tough to have an instructional league...  So does 23 state championships sound tough at all?  It all reminds me of when Coke changed their flavor. We already have this figured out, stop fixing it.

Thanks for this insight into FTJFL, it definitely sheds some light on how things have changed. 

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Fact - Coach Weinrich teaches a full teacher schedule where Dale did not.  Makes a huge difference with being able to go to elementary schools because he is teaching at the middle school the same time the elementary students are at school.  Plus, I do not believe other hhs head coaches visit either. 

 

 

 

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2 minutes ago, Bluebird99 said:

Fact - Coach Weinrich teaches a full teacher schedule where Dale did not.  Makes a huge difference with being able to go to elementary schools because he is teaching at the middle school the same time the elementary students are at school.  Plus, I do not believe other hhs head coaches visit either. 

 

 

 

Another interesting dynamic. 

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56 minutes ago, Bluebird99 said:

Fact - Coach Weinrich teaches a full teacher schedule where Dale did not.  Makes a huge difference with being able to go to elementary schools because he is teaching at the middle school the same time the elementary students are at school.  Plus, I do not believe other hhs head coaches visit either. 

 

 

 

Good to know.....

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An old BGP post that some of you may remember.  Is it still true today?

Highlands is recruiting my son

 

That's right, Highlands is recruiting my son. Here is the proof that everyone needs. Here is how they are doing it. My son is 10 years old and a very good athlete. He goes to school every day and hears about the exploits of the Highlands players from his friends, they talk about it all day long, and have decided that they too will win a state championship when they get to Highlands. Then he goes to the games and is in awe of the things that happen before his eyes. He comes home and you can't get him in bed until you toss with him and he catches 100 passes, followed by ten straight without a drop. When he plays another sport, he wants to wear #5 like Hamblen, or #8 like Gino. He sometimes goes up to practice just to watch. One time he got into the weight room and I had to drag him out. He used to love basketball, baseball, and god forgive him, soccer. Now those are just things that you do when you can't get a football game together. Last winter several Highlands players came to the grade school to read to the kids. The player read about three chapters. That night I had to go to the library to get the book. It was something that a Highlands player liked; it had to be read NOW. We were considering sending him to a private school for high school but he won't hear of it. He says he will go to no school but Highlands. He has promised that if he is allowed to go there he will get all A's and will win three state championships. His last report card was all A's for the first time and when congratulated he said that's all I'll ever see if he goes to Highlands.

 

Highlands has recruited my son.

 

Anonymous

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I think that these threads are always fascinating as to how far people will go to explain away the simplest answer.   Do demographics, socio-economics, concussion concerns, the district closing off/limiting transfers,  coaches having a full teaching load, etc all play a part in why Highlands isn't the same program today?  Yeah, maybe all of those things contribute in some way.  But, are any of those factors going to change anytime soon?  Probably not.   So, the big question has to come down to will things ever improve under the current regime?    Bottom line.   Are these people, who currently have the worst winning percentage in school history, the right people to work within those changing circumstances and restore a consistently competitive standard to the program?   

And that brings us to the things that are specifically under their control, the x's and o's, the player development, and most importantly, the culture.    Any reasonable person would consider those things very much under the control of the head of the program and those are legitimate and true areas of concern.  The freshman kid that transferred last week didn't do so cause of his concern over exclusivity in the real estate market.   I'll end my rant now, but I just think, at the end of the day, it's a simple conclusion.   

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4 minutes ago, observerbynature said:

I think that these threads are always fascinating as to how far people will go to explain away the simplest answer.   Do demographics, socio-economics, concussion concerns, the district closing off/limiting transfers,  coaches having a full teaching load, etc all play a part in why Highlands isn't the same program today?  Yeah, maybe all of those things contribute in some way.  But, are any of those factors going to change anytime soon?  Probably not.   So, the big question has to come down to will things ever improve under the current regime?    Bottom line.   Are these people, who currently have the worst winning percentage in school history, the right people to work within those changing circumstances and restore a consistently competitive standard to the program?   

And that brings us to the things that are specifically under their control, the x's and o's, the player development, and most importantly, the culture.    Any reasonable person would consider those things very much under the control of the head of the program and those are legitimate and true areas of concern.  The freshman kid that transferred last week didn't do so cause of his concern over exclusivity in the real estate market.   I'll end my rant now, but I just think, at the end of the day, it's a simple conclusion.   

In other words, I see better than I hear.

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2 hours ago, THUNDERBIRDS said:

 

It is simply a numbers game. Back 6-7 years ago the FTJFL had over 350 kids playing football. Today the number is around 175 3rd-8th. Just numbers! We can't pick and choose when we can and can't play Internal or play in a Outside league.

Listen I have been coaching 7th/8th football now in Ft Thomas for 18 years. Yes, we would love to make sure we developed more kids at more positions by doing it completely ourselves like years past. However we can't pick and choose when we can do that. We either have to be all in or all out.

Choosing to play Internally in 2019 and then playing in the Middle School League in 2020 and then back to Internally in 2021 doesn't sit well with other Leagues counting on our Commitment year in and year out.

We could of had 4-7th/8th teams in 2020 and played Internally with a 9 games schedule like years past. 38-8th graders and 54-7th. Also in 2021 with a projected number of 80 we could of also did 4 Teams. But in 2022 we would of fell back to about 40-50 kids between the 2 grades Max. We do consider forecast and Class size.

The current 7th class is the largest in District history with almost 300 kids. So it's a Chess game each year when we try to figure out what direction is best for the kids. Unfortunately we don't have a current Head Coach that visits the Kids in the Elementary schools like Dale did and get the Kids excited about playing football. Have you ever heard Dale Mueller's sales pitch? It's not your ordinary talk. The current Coach doesn't feel like it's his job to do so. I know that 1st hand. He only gets involved when asked or told to. And those are Facts!

Anyone is welcome to come sit at a FTJFL board meeting to discuss their frustrations on how we run our League. We are all open ears!

 

I'm sure there is way more into it than I know. It has to be a nightmare to organize and do. I really appreciate the people that step up to do it. But wasn't 6-7 years ago about when they started playing outside Ft Thomas? I'm just wondering if when the previous president went whole hog on playing outside if that was part of the numbers drop? No idea but numbers were humming along when all the games were at DCM on Saturdays. 4 teams was perfect. You could even go 3 three teams like it was in the 80s. It doesnt really matter does it? I am not saying its FTJFL's fault that there hasn't been a state championship in a while. I just think there is probably 2-3 eventual varsity starters each year that get bored of sitting on the sideline and go play soccer.

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Let me make something clear.  I'm not advocating that coaches and players necessarily visit the elementary schools, but do the youth of Fort Thomas still feel the same urgency in playing football for the Birds?  If not, why not?  And I have no idea how to fix it if this is part of the issue.

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25 minutes ago, 35Bird said:

Let me make something clear.  I'm not advocating that coaches and players necessarily visit the elementary schools, but do the youth of Fort Thomas still feel the same urgency in playing football for the Birds?  If not, why not?  And I have no idea how to fix it if this is part of the issue.

Well, I'll just keep spewing my ignorant opinions until I completely reveal myself to be a moron, but I think this is the aspect of being a head coach that is sorely lagging right now.  Now, there are a ton of different ways to do this, so I'm not saying this is the ONLY way, but if you have a head coach who isn't willing to truly BE the face of the program, then I think the "urgency" or enthusiasm is going to lag a little and that will inevitably drift down throughout the lower levels.  I think it's still there absolutely, but I also think it could ramped up immensely.   You don't have to go to the elementary schools by any means, but one night a week, go visit some of the FTJFL practices (they're well after you're finished), drop in during equipment handout, or go watch a game.   Talk to those kids, let em know you're watching and rooting for them and can't wait for them to be part of this.  Make your camps the can't miss event of the summer and get them so pumped they can't wait to be a part of it.   Be the leader of the program.  I know being a high school football coach is a time commitment already and I'm asking for more, but no one MADE you become the head coach.  

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2 minutes ago, observerbynature said:

Well, I'll just keep spewing my ignorant opinions until I completely reveal myself to be a moron, but I think this is the aspect of being a head coach that is sorely lagging right now.  Now, there are a ton of different ways to do this, so I'm not saying this is the ONLY way, but if you have a head coach who isn't willing to truly BE the face of the program, then I think the "urgency" or enthusiasm is going to lag a little and that will inevitably drift down throughout the lower levels.  I think it's still there absolutely, but I also think it could ramped up immensely.   You don't have to go to the elementary schools by any means, but one night a week, go visit some of the FTJFL practices (they're well after you're finished), or go watch a game.   Talk to those kids, let em know you're watching and rooting for them and can't wait for them to be part of this.  Make your camps the can't miss event of the summer and get them so pumped they can't wait to be a part of it.   I know being a high school football coach is a time commitment already and I'm asking for more, but no one MADE you become the head coach.  

What responsibility do parents have to get their children interested in a certain football program?

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1 minute ago, TheDeuce said:

What responsibility do parents have to get their children interested in a certain football program?

I don't know, somewhere between getting them a Colonel chew toy as a baby and driving them to practice?   I would certainly hope they wouldn't disinterest them, but I also think a lot of parents right now are having awkward discussions with their young sons about how you can only control what you can control, and don't say anything to rock the boat, and make the best of the situation.   Some of those are good life lessons, for sure, but are also uneasy indicators of the state of things.  And I don't think that state was caused by parents not getting their kids sufficiently interested.   Appreciate the question though.   

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4 minutes ago, observerbynature said:

I don't know, somewhere between getting them a Colonel chew toy as a baby and driving them to practice?   I would certainly hope they wouldn't disinterest them, but I also think a lot of parents right now are having awkward discussions with their young sons about how you can only control what you can control, and don't say anything to rock the boat, and make the best of the situation.   Some of those are good life lessons, for sure, but are also uneasy indicators of the state of things.  And I don't think that state was caused by parents not getting their kids sufficiently interested.   Appreciate the question though.   

I understand your point about the staff doing some things to generate interest, but I think I would be telling my kids to grab the bull by the horns, so to speak. If you want to play for Highlands, you do what it takes to play for Highlands whether they are actively pursuing youth or not. If kids have to be pursued to be a part of any program, do you really want them in the program to begin with?

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