An interview with Jeff Mayfield

Tomczak next to tackle
Lincoln High School football challenge

Part 4 of 6

[JULY 14, 2000]  A new football coach has hit town. Ron Tomczak faces many challenges coming into his first season with the Lincoln Railers. With this in mind Coach Tomczak has come here with a plan...with a strategy to turn things around. Through July 17, you can read a series of questions and answers from an interview conducted by LDN Sports Talk writer Jeff Mayfield with Coach Tomczak. Get the inside scoop on how Coach Tomczak sizes up our team in the CS8, his strategy, philosophy and training plans to manage our team.

["In the sport of football, you have to have a sense of urgency. It has to be done now, because you never know whenÖ" Ė  Coach Tomczak]

Letís talk philosophy and styles!

Q: Since youíre still evaluating personnel, I wonít ask you if youíre going to run pro sets or out of the wishbone or what type of defensive fronts will you go with. But, how would you characterize your coaching philosophy?

A: As far as position players, Iím more skilled in coaching receivers, running backs and quarterbacks, and defensive backs. Fortunately, my father was a football coach and I played a lot of different positions for him. I played quarterback, tight end, linebacker, defensive end, and in college I played defensive back.

One of my strengths is in coaching special teams. My coach at Western Illinois was Pete Rodriguez, who is now the special teams coach for the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL. I was on special teams from my sophomore through my senior year. I also was a pretty good punter.



If I had to characterize my coaching philosophy as a whole, Iíd like to say that Iím a little bit more defensive oriented. I believe in defense...that offense sells tickets, but that defense wins games. My specialty is defense. I still have a lot to learn on offense. Hopefully, I will be learning the rest of my career...thatís what makes a great teacher and a great coach. I will be the one with the headset on, and I will be calling the plays. I wonít call all the plays solely, because I want input from all of my coaches. If they see something going on and say, coach, the slantís there or the safetyís way over on the other side, Iím going to use their knowledge. We all know that two heads are better than one.

Weíre not going to be primarily a running team, but we do have to establish the rush. Thatís especially true in this conference. They may be a little stronger than us and a little quicker. They all will have established running games. The worst thing for an offense is to go three and out. It puts too much pressure on the defense. We need to have long, sustained drives. I want to have 10- to 15-play drives. The first time we get the ball, we have to establish ourselves. We need to drive it down the field and put some points up on the board. Thatís a key to staying in a ball game and winning a ball game. That first series we want to come away with a field goal or better yet, a touchdown. Or at least take the ball deep in their territory and pin them back. Those are some key areas that are going to win football games.



(To top of second column)



Q: I loved the way the San Francisco 49ers used to script their first 25 plays for the very reasons that you just mentioned. How do you feel about scripting those first few drives?

A: I believe in scripting the first 15 plays. We will have a script every time we go out. Not only does that say we know what weíre doing, it instills confidence in the kids that we are going to run 15 or 20 plays. I think 12 to 15 plays is what you want to script for a high school team. We did that in high school...where we scripted the first 15 plays, and it was very successful for us. We also ran the two-minute drill a lot. If youíre down 21-0 you might be in the two-minute drill for a quarter and a half. One thing these kids have to realize is that nowadays there is no longer a sense of urgency about anything. In the sport of football, you have to have a sense of urgency. It has to be done now because you never know when youíre going to be in that hurry-hurry situation.

I love to hear great coaches talk about these concepts. Iíve been listening to a tape called power talk, with Tony Robbins and Coach John Wooden talking. Itís an unbelievable tape. Some of the philosophies that Coach Wooden had can never be matched. He never spoke to his teams about winning the game; it was about the whole team concept and that youíre out here to improve yourself. Your goal is to play a better game than you did before and make all of your teammates better players. You need to listen to tapes and watch videos to improve your coaching...or maybe a youth football coach will have a good insight that needs to be implemented...they can come from anywhere.

The kids have to feel that thereís pressure on them in practice. Weíre not just going through the motions. I want it to be fresh every day. Theyíre going to know that weíve got team here, 7-on-7 there, special team breakdowns, our individual period and offense-defense, but theyíve got to know that we only have so much time. Once the season starts we only have four practices a week. Thatís only 36 to 40 practices once the season gets here. Thatís not a lot of time.

Monday may just be a scouting day, and the day before game is usually a light day as well. That means you only have 25 hard practices where the kids are going all out in scrimmages. You donít always look forward to those long, hard, full-contact scrimmages, but you have to do it well to be successful.



Just like in basketball, I know Coach Alexander is going to run his 5-on-5 full court press for a half an hour. And his kids will be going all out the whole time. With my dad as my football coach, I look back and see it was his forte: putting the pressure on us during the week to get us fully prepared. Thatís what I learned from him. He was one of the better coaches...I might be a little biased towards him. He was skilled at taking us from point A to point B. I went farther with him than any other coach.

Sports fans, make LDN your start page for the next two days to get all of the plans Coach Tomczak has in store for the Lincoln Railer football season. If you miss one, worry for naught; on Monday next week weíll follow up the last article with all five other articles.

[Jeff Mayfield]

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