THE PIGSKIN PROPHET: Which coaches are under the most pressure in 2018?
Yours truly, The Pigskin Prophet is, up from his long winter’s (and spring’s and summer’s) nap, and thinking about the 2018 high school football season.
It’s only three weeks away. You can almost smell the popcorn and Icy Hot.
To prepare, The Pig is tail-deep in research, combing the rosters, looking at who’s back and who’s not and trying to figure out which team he’ll adopt to tease, tease, tease. (Remember last year, Angola fans?) It might be the Carroll Chargers. Those boys were sniffing around at Media Day, trying to find the Pig and send a message or something. We’ll see. News-Sentinel.com will start revealing its Top 15 teams, one per day, this Monday!
But before we get into the real meat of the season, let’s talk coaching. The Pig loves football coaches. They’re thick-skinned (most of the time). They’re gregarious (most of the time). They’re film buffs (all of the time).
With that said, here are The Pig’s picks for coaches who enter this year with a special kind of friend: Mr. Pressure.
Who’s feeling the heat? These five, for all sorts of different reasons:
Jason Garrett, Bishop Dwenger
Dwenger changes coaches about as often as The Pig changes favorite chefs, which is to say only when the chef retires. Andy Johns ran Dwenger football from 1980 to 2001, Chris Svarczkopf (with a one-year stand-in from Ernie Bojrab) ran things from 2002 to 2017.
What’s an acceptable first-year record for Garrett? Johns was 7-3 in 1980. Svarczkopf was 13-2 and state runner-up in 2002. So, that’s a combined 20-5 (.800). If Garrett’s team wins fewer than seven regular-season games this fall, expect some fan grousing. Pressure definitely comes with the job.
The other day, the Saints’ seniors repelled from a 14-story building together. The Pig wouldn’t dream of doing that, but at the very least this group of Dwenger players sounds fearless.
Jimmy Linn, New Haven
Here’s the other big-time new coach as Linn takes over for Jim Rowland. (The Pig is tempted to start calling the Bulldogs the Jimmys, given their fondness for James-christened coaches!) Rowland was the longest running active coach in Allen County, and a big-time pal of the Pig.
From what the Pig has seen of coach Linn, he’s got a lot of – what should we call it? – intensity! He’s a rasslin’ coach, so you know he can raise his voice from the sidelines.
The ‘Dogs have spent their offseason working out at the Harding Junior High field while the New Haven turf was installed. That turf could come in handy for some of the New Haven speed. (Bet Rowland wishes he’d had turf in his heyday.)
Sherwood Haydock, Woodlan
The man in black was so, so close to winning that state title last season, but it came with a price: Lots of departing senior players. It’s time to retool the team, and while Haydock has proved over the years he can win with many different styles of play, he’ll have the most inexperienced team of his Woodlan tenure.
Woodlan has had double-digit wins the last three years (13-2, 10-1, 12-3) but it’s going to be awfully tough for Haydock to pull that off this time around. He might need a few trick plays. The good news: He’s got a playbook full of them.
Derrick Moore, Wayne
Moore has made a step forward with the Generals in each of his seasons. After going 0-10 in 2015, the Generals were 2-8 in 2016 and 5-7 in 2017. It’s time for an above-.500 finish, right?
The Generals have some talent, led by Ohio State commit Craig Young, but the Summit Athletic Conference remains one of the toughest in the state. The Generals play Bishop Dwenger on opening night and later, close the season with a killer run of Snider, Concordia, Homestead and Carroll.
If Moore can keep his players focused, they have some talent. He hasn’t had the depth to keep pushing in the fourth quarter against power programs, but that might, just might, be changing. Any outside pressure pales in comparison with the expectations Moore puts on himself.
Kurt Tippmann, Snider
What’s Tippmann’s name doing on here? Here’s why: The Panthers are almost always the No. 1 team in the area and are always the team people love to beat, as rarely as that happens.
The pressure’s on Tippmann because he has a team of largely unproven players. They’ll wear a target on their backs even though they haven’t done anything themselves to earn it. The Pig counted 18 players who graduated last season who contributed in one way or another, many of them starters. Wow. The offense will have a new quarterback and running back, among other spots, and the defense returns Ethan Hoover and Luke Owens but not much else.
Prediction: Snider wins the SAC again, ’cause Tippmann knows how to reload. Wait. Did The Pig just apply more pressure?
This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of News-Sentinel.com.