Preps Not Much Different From College
When push comes to shove, the top high school football programs are similar to their college counterparts.
Think about the elite prep programs in Southern California – Mater Dei, Long Beach Poly, Mission Viejo, Oaks Christian, Notre Dame, Bishop Amat, and (Ventura) St. Bonaventure, to name a few, and compare them to the best college teams – USC, Florida, Texas, Alabama, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Georgia, and Penn State.
What do they have in common? First is a desire to recruit the top talent. Then comes teaching, followed by support from alumni.
It’s safe to say that USC Head Coach Pete Carroll is no worse than the second or third best coach around. Some place him at the top.
Regardless, Carroll, who just concluded his eighth season, has built his enormous reputation by emphasizing that the best player will be on the field, regardless of whether he’s a freshman or senior.
In part, USC has continued its unprecedented run under Carroll by allowing everyone to compete for a job. Who wouldn’t want to play for a coach with this attitude?
This season, for instance, would be considered very good, but not quite great. The Trojans finished 12-1, and beat powerful Penn State in the Rose Bowl Game, but lost on the road to Oregon State in late September.
Just like the colleges, the best high school coaches have enormous staffs. There’s an offensive coordinator, offensive line coach, receivers coach, quarterbacks coach, and running backs coach.
Of course, there’s a defensive coordinator, a defensive line coach, linebackers coach, and secondary coach. And a special teams coach. This is high school football, but at some programs, it’s more like a small-college setting.
It helps immensely to have the backing of the school, alumni and parents. You can’t build a powerhouse program without everybody pitching in.
Notre Dame sophomore quarterback Jimmy Clausen is a product of Oaks Christian. Scouts knew how good Clausen was after only two years. By the time he was a junior, every school was after him.
As a senior, he was the top-rated signal-caller in the nation. And though the Fighting Irish struggled his freshman season at 3-9, Notre Dame bounced back with a 7-6 mark and a bowl win.
Mater Dei quarterback Matt Barkley committed early to USC, and hopes to be in the starting lineup soon.
Like Clausen, Barkley is considered the best at his position, but because the Trojans have more talent than the Irish, the likelihood is that Barkley will make a bigger splash.
Nothing can be taken for granted, and there is some luck involved, but the top players generally find their way to the elite college programs.
That’s why USC has been one of the most dominant teams in the nation, and will continue on this track.
In the end it boils down to recruiting, coaching and having a winning reputation. Few have done it better than Carroll, and the Trojans.