In high school football, does good coaching trump talent?

By Stephen Spiewak | Posted 5/17/2017

What coach wouldn’t want a rocket-armed quarterback, an offensive line teeming with 6-foot-6 giants and a springy 6-foot-3 safety roaming the secondary?

That arrangement of future Division I players is hardly a reality for most high school coaches.

However, some teams are endowed with considerable Division I talent—but they don’t always win.

Trey Labat, a high school sports writer for The Advertiser in Louisiana, recently penned a piece in which he opined that coaching—not recruiting talent—is the biggest factor in the success of high school sports teams.

“The most common denominator of success around the area in football, basketball, baseball and softball is coaching,” Labat wrote.

He pointed to one of the area’s top football teams, Kaplan High School, which finished 13-1 and was a state semifinalist despite having only one player on the roster who is scheduled to play football in college.

Labat suggests that schools that invest in high-quality coaches—and give those coaches the time to implement their system—can enjoy a level of success that can overcome opponents with more talented rosters.

“What separates them [schools that have been successful] from the pack is a talented coaching staff that has had the time and patience to implement their system,” he wrote.

Off the field, good coaches can help players overcome any number of obstacles. On the field, as Labat points out, good coaches can also help a less talented group of individuals blossom into a more successful team.

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