November 12, 2007

High school football

In high school football, recruiting, although seldom endorsed, is important. For example, in Ventura County, Darrell Scott, who rushed for 3,195 yards last year as a junior at the public high school in Moorpark, suddenly showed up as a senior at the traditional football powerhouse St. Bonaventure in Ventura. But, coaches can still make a difference, too.

Anthropologist John Hawks, who grew up in rural Kansas, points to this NY Times article on the football team from tiny Smith Center, Kansas, which has outscored its opponents 704-0 this year. Coach Roger Barta has spent 30 years at Smith Center H.S.:

Barta, 62, is quick to smile and is a gentle sort with a honey baritone. Over 30 years here, he has won 273 games against 58 losses (an .825 winning percentage) and guided the Redmen to six state titles. He has had plenty of offers to move up and on, but instead he stayed and watched dozens of his boys go to play college football.

I should have an article out by next weekend taking a look at high school football as it embodies both sides of the widening gap between the values of what was called in the 1940s the Century of the Common Man and of our own Century of the Superstar.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer


Anonymous said...

When MTV came out with the reality show about Hoover High School, I researched why it was so good. It is a combination of recruiting, parents wanting to move into the school district of have their kids play football, cheating on the part of the school to keep player eligible, and coaching.

However, in high school, some of the coaching comes from being able to run the same system for several years. In Texas, a high school football coach has total control from 7th grade on. Thus, the students run the same offenses and defense from 7th grade to the varsity team.

If you look at the flop that Gerry Faust was at Notre Dame part of that came from not being able to out recruit at the college level like he could at the high school level.

Anonymous said...

You should see if you can find an academic paper by Keith Elias on the evolution of football in America. Elias wrote it as his thesis at Princeton, and then he went on to be a rare white tailback in the NFL for the time, including a stint at the NY Giants. Elias mentioned the thesis in an interview once, saying that the evolution of football paralleled the evolution of the American economy in a number of ways (in the trend toward specialization, etc.).

Anonymous said...

Something interesting is happening at the HS level -- the return of the Single Wing.

Reason: kids can be better at running and blocking at that level than the complex teamwork of pass-protection from the Offensive Line, quick reads by QBs and throws within seconds, and complex pass routes by receivers. It's a simpler, more basic offense matching skill levels of kids (who also haven't had a lot of coaching). Elite schools are not using it but lower-level ones seem to use it.

Anonymous said...

Recruiting is a very pervasive part of high school football, and while it's technically not allowed in most states, there are ways around it. For example, most public school systems have a few loopholes in the zoning policies that can be exploited by coaches and parents. For private schools, they can provide "financial aid" to football players.

The problem is that the reputation of a "winning program" builds on itself and that makes more parents and players want to exploit the system so that they can play for a winner. Same way as it is in college, really.