Hudl Champions: Todd Peterman Taps Leadership Council En Route to State Title

DeSoto claimed the 6A Division II championship in Texas due in part to Peterman’s empowering of his players.

Hudl Champions: Todd Peterman Taps Leadership Council En Route to State Title

DeSoto claimed the 6A Division II championship in Texas due in part to Peterman’s empowering of his players.

We like to highlight the best of the best, and that’s our goal with the Hudl Champions series. We want to tap state champion coaches and gain insights that can help others get an edge on Friday nights.

Coach: Todd Peterman, DeSoto High

State: Texas

Record: 16-0 (6A Division II)

Championship score: DeSoto 38, Steele 29

Not all great ideas pay immediate dividends. Some brainstorms seem great in theory but come up short in execution.

Thankfully for DeSoto High School, Todd Peterman didn’t give up on his belief after creating the team’s player-led leadership council in 2015. Some coaches may have abandoned the strategy after a frustrating 6-6 campaign, but it paid off this season, helping DeSoto cruise to a 16-0 record and the 6A Division II title.

“The first year we were kind of feeling our way through it,” Peterman said. “The first year we also had some underclassmen on it, so they got to see what it looked like and what we were trying to accomplish ahead of time. It most definitely made a difference with some things.”

Inspired by TCU’s Gary Patterson and former coach Dennis Franchione, Peterman selected 18 players to be on the council. The group, which was picked largely based on academic success and leadership ability, consisted of mostly seniors, though Peterman included some underclassmen so they could learn the ropes and serve as leaders once they reached senior status.

Peterman wanted the players to take ownership of the team and learn what leadership looks like. After setting the standard for the council, he stepped aside for the most part and let the players handle their business unless a larger problem arose.

“There were some decisions to make where I’m not going to talk to the team about it,” he said. “They solve the little problems. What do they want to wear on Friday night? I know that sounds silly, but that’s something I don’t want to mess with. They came to me with some things that they wanted before the year started. They wanted to do some community service, so we kind of took some avenues there. They took those back to the team.”

DeSoto didn’t have a set schedule for meetings. Peterman met sporadically with the council, convening only when communication was needed.

Empowered by their coach, the Eagles ripped through their opponents, winning by an average of 25.4 points per game. And having the team take care of the little decisions gave Peterman more time to game plan, which helped DeSoto overcome a tough playoff slate, culminating with a 38-29 victory over Steele in the finale.

“We’re showing them what leadership looks like and what it sounds like,” Peterman said. “When things are going good, what does leadership look like? When things are going bad, what does it look like and what does it sound like? What does being a consistent football team look like? What message should they be giving to the other kids? We have kids that need some extra motivation, and we leaned on our leadership council.”

Have you started a form of leadership council with your team? Feel free to tell us about it in the comments below.

Other Hudl Champions

Jason Negro, St. John Bosco (Calif.)

Join 297,000 football coaches   |   Get Hudl’s latest coaching and video tips straight to your inbox.