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  • Writer's pictureTerry O'Neil

Homecoming on the Bayou

Practice Like Pros presented Thursday to the Board of Directors of the Louisiana Football Coaches Association (LFCA) in the football team meeting room of theUniversity of Louisiana at Lafayette, home of the Ragin' Cajuns.  It was a homecoming of sorts for PLP founder Terry O'Neil, who was senior vice president of the New Orleans Saints in the late '90s.

Louisiana's current practice regulations are among the nation's most permissive --unlimited contact through 3 1/2 weeks of pre-season, unlimited in regular season,unlimited during 10 days of spring practice.  Yet the Board detailed how little contact is actually used statewide.

Coach Eric Held, who recently left Catholic High School in Baton Rouge to become executive director of the Louisiana High School Coaches Association (LHSCA), said, "The vast majority of us in this room practice smart.  At Catholic High the last six seasons, we practiced in 'thud,' not taking anyone to the ground.  Or defenders would get into position, simulate a tackle and fly by the ball carrier.  Smarter is more sensible these days."

NJ Coaches 'Unfazed by New Rules'

In a story headlined, "Area Football Coaches Unfazed by New Contact Rules," theNew Jersey Herald two weeks ago reported solid support for the NJSIAA's historic contact limits adopted in mid-February.  Among the coaches quoted:

Head Coach Frank Marchiano of Sparta (NJ) High: "We never hit live, so this really does not affect us.  I do not believe in live tackling in practice."

Head Coach Matt Parzero of Newton (NJ) High:  "It makes coaches aware that there is an issue and something needs to change.  It's for the improvement of the game, for its longevity.  The old-school way of thinking was: 'Toughen them up, only the strong survive.'   Now we're forced to be better technique coaches, to be more prepared, set up drills, simulate without scrimmaging, teach proper hand placement, foot position, body position.  We'd rather instill confidence through preparation, learning through repetition without going live."

Read the full New Jersey Herald story by clicking here.

Pennsylvania, Too?

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette earlier this month sampled the opinion of western Pennsylvania coaches in a story headlined, "Local Coaches Mostly in Favor of New Jersey's Drastic Changes to High School Football Practice Guidelines."  Among the coaches quoted:

Head Coach Eric Kasperowicz of Pine-Richland High, Gibsonia, PA: "Once the season starts, we're never live.  We haven't live tackled to the ground in two-and-a-half years, so I'm a big proponent of that.  It's 2019, things have changed.  We need to keep up with the times.  We need to keep our game growing and thriving, and the way it was played back in the '70s is not the way to do that, in my opinion.  Nobody's going to want to play anymore if it's not safe.  It doesn't mean you're softer or any less tough or less physical, you're just smarter about it."

Head Coach Greg Botta of Franklin Regional High, Murrysville, PA:  "I know that in my 26 years as a head coach, I've changed a lot.  Even a couple of my players who are real tough said to me the other day, 'Coach, you've got to start getting tougher on us.'  We talked about what that meant, driving them further and pushing them past the limits they can go, but I'm very cautious about going full speed and taking people to the ground."

Read the full Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story by clicking here.

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