[PODCAST] Should freshmen players be integrated into varsity practices? Hear what these high school coaches think

By Matt Reed | Posted 6/21/2018


Today’s USA Football Coach and Coordinator podcast features a variety of high school football coaches across the nation. They all join today’s show to share their thoughts on whether or not coaches should include freshmen players in practices with the varsity team. In the past, this would not be a topic of debate in most places, as players were always separated into their varsity, JV and freshman teams. But some coaches today have started to go against the norm and include all of those players together. Today’s show features a total of seven guests in to talk with host Keith Grabowski about freshman integration.

Brad Burchfield - Head Coach, Bishop Hartley High School (Columbus, Ohio) - Twitter: @brad_burchfield

Burchfield has been the head coach at Hartley since 2008. Starting his 11th season, Burchfield has led Hartley to three state championships in Ohio in four total appearances. He has amassed a 93-23 record over 10 seasons and has captured seven straight regional titles.

Aaron Chantler - Head Coach, Auburn High School (Washington) - Twitter: @coach_achantler

Chantler begins his first season as head coach at Auburn. This comes after a year of serving as the offensive coordinator for Auburn. He helped Auburn to a 6-4 record last season with a scoring average of 27.6 points per game. Chantler spent five seasons previously at Gig Harbor High School (Washington). He was the head coach the last two seasons he was there and helped Gig Harbor to two league titles and averaging 45 points per game in 2015.

Tim Rogers - Head Coach, Forest Hills Central (Michigan) - Twitter: @Cochtimrogers

Rogers is in his sixth season as the head coach at Forest Hills. The team is coming off a 13-1 record last season, with their lone loss coming in the state semifinals game. Overall, Rogers holds a 35-27 record at Forest Hills with two straight trips to at least the regional finals game.

Eric Kasperowicz - Head Coach, Pine-Richland High School (Pennsylvania) - Twitter: @CoachKasper

Kasperowicz has been the head coach at Pine-Richland for the past five seasons. Pine-Richland is coming off a Pennsylvania 6A state title-winning season, in which the team went 16-0 en route to a championship. Kasperowicz has taken Pine-Richland to two state championship appearances and has compiled a 53-13 record in five seasons.

Todd Fox, Head Coach, Norwalk High School (Ohio) - Twitter: @foxtodd77

Fox was hired as the new head coach at Norwalk in February. This comes after Fox was the head football coach at Tiffin Calvert High School (Ohio) for eight seasons. Fox had a record of 56-36 and seven straight appearances to the state playoffs.

Mike Kuchar - Defensive Coordinator, Rahway High School (New Jersey) - Twitter: @MikekKuchar

Kuchar is in his first season as the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator at Rahway. He has coached in both high school and college football for 14 years as a coordinator and head coach. Kuchar is also the co-founder and senior research manager of X&O Labs, a research company giving up-to-date reports on strategies, schemes and trends to coaches at the professional, collegiate and high school level.

Blaine Powell - Head Coach, Sullivan High School (Indiana) - Twitter: @coachpowell91

Powell is in his second season as the head coach at Sullivan. The team went 9-2 in Powell’s first season as head coach and captured the Western Indiana Conference title. Prior to becoming the head coach, Powell spent 10 seasons on the staff under former head coach Trent Olson. While Powell was an assistant, Sullivan won two league titles and six seasons over .500.

On today’s podcast, host Keith Grabowski talks with all seven guests about their approach to including freshmen with their varsity players and how that has affected their players and their programs.

Show Notes

  • 3:53       Brad Burchfield talks about the advantage of incorporating freshmen
  • 6:05       BB: Keys to bringing in freshmen to a championship team
  • 7:20       BB: How playing time is a factor to all players
  • 12:49     Aaron Chantler shares why it is important to involve freshmen with the varsity
  • 18:05     AC: Coordinating between different teams’ schedules
  • 23:48    AC: Benefits of having coaches align culture with the whole team
  • 27:10     Tim Rogers discusses developing staff to assist players from freshman year on
  • 30:07     TR: Being able to develop players early in the process
  • 33:16     TR: How freshman integration builds the overall team culture
  • 37:03     Eric Kasperowicz gives a different look at setting practice
  • 41:00     Todd Fox shares the importance of involving freshmen regardless of program size
  • 44:20     TF: Players having primary and secondary positions on the team
  • 48:39     TF: Balancing freshmen playing with and competing against upperclassmen
  • 51:15       TF: Avoiding hazing and unfair treatment of freshmen within the team
  • 53:45      Mike Kuchar discusses practicing freshmen with varsity players
  • 55:06      MK: Building a program’s culture and keeping freshmen on the team
  • 1:01:32    MK: Avoiding matching up freshmen with upperclassmen in practice
  • 1:03:11     MK: The 21-Hour Program
  • 1:08:08   Blaine Powell looks at incorporating incoming freshmen in the offseason
  • 1:11:53     BP: Addressing the safety of freshmen in drills
  • 1:13:46    BP: Key to keeping a player in the program for all four years
  • 1:16:11     BP: Building a culture of respect to all players on the team


Subscribe to the USA Football Coach and Coordinator podcast on iTunes.

RELATED CONTENT: [PODCAST] Cedar Grove (Georgia) High School coach Jermaine Smith on preparing players for life after football

RELATED CONTENT: [PODCAST] McKinley (Ohio) High School coach Dan Reardon discusses how to make players competitive in the offseason

RELATED CONTENT: [PODCAST] La Salle Academy (Rhode Island) coach Geoff Marcone talks about building team unity and efficient practices