American Football

Best of the Best: Hudl Champions Recap

<p>Check out the top insights we found from some of the country’s best coaches as we wrap up our Hudl Champions series.</p>

Over the past two months we’ve highlighted key takeaways from seven state champion coaches from across the U.S. From California to Pennsylvania, we sought out knowledgeable sources and tried to find what has helped make them so successful.

As we wrap up the series, we wanted to share what we found one last time. We hope some of the insights these coaches shared can help take you to the next level next season.

1. Jason Negro, St. John Bosco (California)

Synopsis: Negro has become one of the nation’s most successful coaches by empowering every member of his staff and building continuity within that group.

Key quote: “Everybody has to understand that they have a particular role, and in that role they have to operate at the highest level in order for us all to be successful. It’s no different than on the field - you have 11 guys and they all have a role, and on any particular play they need to execute to the best of their ability for us to be successful.”

2. Todd Peterman, DeSoto (Texas)

Synopsis: Peterman created a leadership council among his upperclassmen that handled some team decisions and freed him up to tackle larger projects.

Key quote: “If I want to know what the players are thinking, I can just talk to the leadership council.”

3. Michael Huffman, Bellevue West (Nebraska)

Synopsis: Huffman used social media to discover what was motivating his players and keeps a close eye on his players’ accounts to help them in recruiting.

Key quote: “They get it. Most of them don’t want (social media) to be a reason that they can’t play at the next level. You want that reason to be because you’re not good enough, not because you said something stupid on social media.”

4. Kirk Fridrich, Union (Okla.)

Synopsis: Talent alone won’t win many ballgames. Fridrich had to rally his players around a common goal to help them reach their potential.

Key quote: “At times, there are going to be guys on the team that aren’t going to pay attention to what the coach is saying or don’t trust what the coach is doing. You’ve got to get those core leaders on your team that can influence the rest of that group.”

5. Steve Specht, St. Xavier (Ohio)

Synopsis: Losing streaks happen, but Specht built a strong team culture and belief in his players, and they didn’t crumble in some dark times.

Key quote: “They have to trust the process and everything we’re trying to accomplish, and our kids bought in,” Specht, who captured his third state championship with the victory, said. “I kept telling them, we get into the playoffs and everyone is 0-0. You can forget the regular-season records. Ours was 5-5. It’s anybody’s game.”

6. Josh Niblett, Hoover (Ala.)

Synopsis: Niblett looked for value in every player on his roster, allowing him to maximize his depth and create game-changing mismatches.

Key quote: “If you’re a really good football player, we’re going to find you a place to play,” Niblett said. “We’ve got to find ways to make sure we get our best football players on the field. If there are 25 of them, we’ve got to get them all in there and make sure they all understand their role.”

7. Gabe Infante, St. Joseph’s Prep (Penn.)

Synopsis: St. Joseph’s Prep blew out most of its opponents last year, but Infante was able to keep the team focused and didn’t allow them to be upset in the playoffs.

Key quote: “We talk about never using the scoreboard as a litmus test for our performance. We’re very performance-driven and we’re not results-oriented. We don’t look at scores in our evaluation process or our self-reflection. Scores tend to be very misleading.”

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