Almost 80 Wake County high school and middle school head football coaches and certified athletic trainers completed the classroom and practice sessions of USA Football’s eight-hour Heads Up Football certification program Thursday at N.C. State’s Murphy Center.
The course included sessions on concussion recognition and response, proper fit of equipment, heat and hydration safety and the proper technique in tackling. The sessions included classroom instruction and hands-on drills on the field.
The coaches were given 18 drills that help teach proper tackling techniques and they were urged to standardize their tackling terminology so players are taught the same way throughout their careers.
The coaches were taught that the first phase of a tackle is the breakdown – feet set, shoulders pulled back, knees bent and hands in front.
The buzz is taking short choppy steps toward the ball carrier.
The hit is contact with the front of the shoulder pads, not the top of the shoulder pads.
The shoot is when the hips move forward and up.
The final step is the rip with both arms making upper cuts around the ball carrier.
“I’ve heard people say you can’t teach tackling unless you are in full uniform and full contact,” said Jimmy Wallace, who built a 286-67 record and led teams to four state titles while coaching at Rock Hill (S.C.) Northwestern High. “I don’t believe that. You can teach tackling with drills that can be done in helmets and shoulder pads.”
Wallace, former Concord (N.C.) High coach E.Z. Smith and former Penn State running back Ricky Upton acted as instructors. They repeatedly said coaches are the guardians of the game and that the course is designed to make football safer.
The coaches are expected to take what they learned and share it with their assistant coaches, players and parents.
The Wake system is the first in North Carolina to bring in all of its head football coaches for the course, but the program will be given in upcoming weeks in Forsyth County and Pitt County. Smith said other systems throughout the state are making inquiries.
The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Association recently adopted the Heads Up program and instructed all of its head football coaches.
“It is the best program out there right now,” said Darren Coe, the Wake senior administrator for athletics. “We want to be in the forefront of player safety.”
Hinton picks Deacs: Southern Durham High quarterback Kendall Hinton was taken on a personal tour of the Wake Forest University campus by new Deacons coach Dave Clawson during a recent visit, and it was that combined with Wake’s academic reputation that helped land Hinton’s commitment on Wednesday.
The 5-foot-11, 189-pound senior quarterback passed for 4,159 yards and 40 touchdowns and rushed for 1,242 yards and 13 touchdowns while leading the Spartans to the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3AA state championship.
“I really got to know the staff well,” Hinton said. “I felt like I fit there. I was very comfortable. And Wake’s academics are so good.”
Hinton did not intend to make a commitment during his visit this week, but decided he was sure he wanted to go there.
DiMaggio to UNC: Dante DiMaggio, a versatile offensive performer at Cardinal Gibbons High, plans to walk on to the University of North Carolina football team. DiMaggio played wide receiver, running back and quarterback for the Crusaders.
The 6-foot-3, 198-pound DiMaggio had 66 catches for 1,134 yards for Gibbons during a 9-4 season, despite missing four games with a broken hand.
“This is a really good opportunity for me,” DiMaggio said. “I had a few scholarship offers, but this is a better situation for me. It is close to home and I get to join a great program.”
DiMaggio will go to summer school and participate in off-season workouts.
Tigers change coaches: Lason Perkins, who led the Chapel Hill High boys basketball team to a 19-8 season and a 12-2 record in the Big Eight 3A Conference during his year as interim head coach, will not be the Tigers’ coach next fall.
Perkins was an assistant on former coach Tod Morgan’s staff and was named interim coach when Morgan left before the season to take a position in New Bern. Perkins learned this week he would not be retained.
Perkins’ departure marks the sixth head coaching change at the school within one year. Chapel Hill hired Lee Land as its baseball coach last winter and Jody Brown was named volleyball coach this week, succeeding Sherry Norris, the all-time leader in N.C. high school volleyball wins.
Elliott Warnock contributed to this story.