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mccBy Mike Kuchar, Senior Research Manager, X&O Labs


Winning culture is established in the “off-season.” While the rewards are reaped in the fall, the seeds are planted right now in weight rooms and classrooms throughout the country. Successful coaches know this, which is why they are involved in every aspect of their program. We researched 11 successful high school head coaches- from 11 different states- who have won over three quarters of their games during their coaching tenure and asked them 8 questions that were generated from our readers. We asked them questions ranging from how they develop mental toughness in their players, how they teach character education, how they provide accountability in their student athletes and even what fundraisers they use to generate revenue in their program.

By Mike Kuchar
Senior Research Manager
X&O Labs
Twitter: @MikekKuchar


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mccWinning culture is built now. It’s cultivated in weight rooms across the county and emphasized in classrooms where coaches teach character development and the essentials of leadership. Successful coaches understand football is a yearlong endeavor. There is no off-season, just a perpetual process in which student-athletes learn the culture of being successful. Which is why the best coaches are hard at work now instilling what will be the “culture” of their program for years to come.

XandOLabs.com researched what winning coaches are doing now, in the off-season, to build successful teams. Our eleven contributors are head high school coaches in eleven separate states throughout the country and boast a winning percentage of .777, winning more than three-quarters of their games throughout their head coaching tenures. Their bio’s are below:


• John Black (JB) Head football coach, Neodesha High School (KS)- 39-22 record the last six seasons, six district championships.
• Brian Blackmon (BB) Head football coach, Opelika High School (AL)- 64-26 record the last eight seasons.
• Kellan Cobbs (KC) Head football coach, Granite Hills High School (CA)- Went from 1-9 in first season to 9-3 in 2014 and 9-2 in 2015 finishing with a league championship.
• Kirk Fridrich (KF) Head football coach, Union High School (OK)- 97-13 record in eight years and four state championships.
• Josh Henninger (JH) Head football coach, Red Jacket High School (NY)- 36-5 record last four seasons. Two sectional titles and four league titles.
• Patrick Kane (PK) Head football coach, Hermitage High School (VA)- 148-26 record the last 15 seasons, 11 district championships.
• Clay Iverson (CI) Head football coach, Mukwonago High School (WI)- 81-23 record as a head coach, four conference titles.
• Corey Parker (CP) Head football coach, River Rouge High School (MI)- 56-20 record, five metro conference titles.
• Paul Patterson (PP) Head football coach, Norwalk High School (IA)- 12-2 record last season.
• Mark Raetz (MRa) Head football coach, Northview High School (IN)- 25-7 record at school, three Western Indiana Conference championships.
• Mike Rowe (MRo) Head football coach, Ricori High School (MN)- 48-22 record last four seasons, three sectional titles.

These eleven coaches were asked eight questions on how they have built successful programs. These questions were generated from our readers- on topics that spanned from off-season conditioning to fundraising. These specific questions pertained to:

• How they keep two and three-sport athletes motivated during the off-season.
• What activities they use to develop mental toughness in student-athletes.
• How they teach character education among their players.
• Which fundraisers they use to produce lucrative results.
• How they have built and developed accountability in the classroom among student-athletes.
• What characteristics they look for in hiring new coaches.
• Their philosophy in working with parents and administration.
• What they have done to develop the feeder systems (Pop Warner programs) in their towns to promote football.

While the entire transcribed interview is available only to Insiders, some of what we found were:

  • The team competition implementation that Coach Fridrich uses during the off-season. which tracks GPA, weight room attendance, community service, ACT test scores and classroom attendance.
  • The 12-month program that Coach Parker uses at River Rouge High School that is used to develop speed, strength and size among his players.
  • The four week “Dawg Days” program that Coach Blackmon starts in February to develop the mental toughness of his student-athletes.
  • The “Midnight Madness” session that Coach Parker uses on the first day of organized practice, which he opens to the entire community as a fundraiser.
  • How various coaches are using Thom Shea’s Unbreakable to formulate character development sessions in the off-season.
  • The “Black Flag” Saturday program that Coach Iverson uses in February which combines 45 minutes of on-field work and 30 minutes of servant leadership.
  • Details of the various types of fundraising activities these coaches do including clothing sales, lift-a-thons and Hudl email collections.
  • Why Coach Parker collects student-athletes cell phones prior to their first hour of class to keep them focused in the classroom.
  • How these coaches are using recruiting to leverage higher GPA scores, which provide for accountability in the classroom.
  • Which characteristics are most important when hiring new coaches.
  • What methods work when coaches are working with parents and administration.
  • How these coaches are developing a year-round system to promote football among the feeder systems in their respective towns.

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Our special thanks goes out to the eleven coaches that contributed to this report. A winning philosophy has always been the crux of success in football and these coaches were willing to share theirs with our reader base.



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