Watching Elite Football: A Closer Look With Mark Miller
Photo Courtesy of WHBC

Lakewood St. Edward at Massillon was like watching a college football game. From the size of the stadium and crowd, to the size and talent of the players, this was big time high school football. Even though it was less points than most imagined, the defensive effort made it a very interesting game. People ask me what was the difference in the Tigers winning and the Eagles losing. Of course, in closely played games it usually comes down to a few big plays or mistakes but I really thought Massillon played
harder than St. Ed’s. The other big key to me was the defensive front 7 of Massillon did not allow the monstrous offensive line (299 lb. ave.) to push them around. The run game was not a consistent factor all night for St. Ed’s. Both teams will make deep runs in the playoffs and who knows, maybe both will be state champs (Div. 1 and Div. 2).

Unrelated to the Massillon game, my wife told me of a comment last week that caught my attention. A teacher made the statement that the football coach at their school only taught 2 classes per day. They thought it was unfair the head football coach didn’t have to work more hours than that, after all the other teachers taught a full day of classes. Having been a college football coach for seven seasons, I immediately knew this person had never coached and most likely never played a high school sport. I admit some high schools give their revenue sport coaches additional release time from the classroom during their season to reduce lesson planning and so they can handle the off field duties more efficiently. That does not mean they are “doing football” all day. Many have study halls, lunch room duty, bus duty, etc. Just because they are not teaching does not mean they are not in the school building performing a needed function. And now the point that really must be made. A coach’s day usually begins well before the start of school and lasts well into the night. Early morning weight lifting, film sessions and staff meetings are common. Then after school they really get busy with practices,
meetings, game planning, film study, etc. Most coaches do not get home for dinner and rarely are there to see their kids go to bed. Throw in weekends, preseason practices, off-season conditioning, camps and 7 on 7’s, clinics, dealing with college recruiters, etc. – it truly is a year-round job. My wife was a lifelong teacher and I know many teachers spend extra time outside the school day. But let’s be real, not close to the amount of time coaches spend.

When I was an assistant at Bowling Green in the 80’s I did a study to see how much the football coaches on our staff made per hour. I never told my wife but it was $4.13 per hour. College is more extreme than high school but there are many similarities timewise. Certainly coaches, and teachers, are paid better these days but high school coaches do not coach to get rich. They coach because they love the game and they love kids. I hope that is why teachers teach as well – because they love kids. Let’s understand and support our coaches better. It is a very tough, and often thankless, job that benefits our young people. Maybe you’ve seen the ads by the OHSAA that athletes miss less school, get in less trouble and get better grades than non-athletes. A lot of that is because of coaches.