Think Hes The Next Big Thing: High School Football Coaches Talk Kevin Stefanski, Browns

The students of the game are watching Kevin Stefanski's Cleveland Browns.

High school football coaches throughout the region are plugged in.

They treat the NFL as a coaches clinic funded by billionaires. They tune in to Browns games as a football thing to do with their families, apart from a job whose hours can be hard on a home.

In a majority of cases, they're just like you. They were hoping for better than 5-4, and they're sweating the New England game.

Call them expert Browns fans.

More Cleveland Browns: Remember me? Browns' Troy Hill never got a chance to wish Bill Belichick happy new year

As the high school playoffs reach their midway point on the way to championship at the stadium next to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, we touch base with the students of the game.

We asked an array of high school head coaches in the region two basic Browns questions. What are your general impressions of the 2021 team? What do you think of Kevin Stefanski in particular?

Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski works the sideline during the second half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021, in Cleveland, Ohio.
Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski works the sideline during the second half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021, in Cleveland, Ohio.

Here is a quick introduction to the coaches, along with their answers.

Chuck Kyle, Cleveland St. Ignatius

He had him at hello.

Stefanski had just been hired by the Browns when he was introduced to Kyle, an Ignatius graduate who has coached his alma mater to 11 state championships

"Kevin stuck out his hand and said, 'Ah ... a man for others," Kyle recalls.

The phrase is a Jesuit motto. Ignatius and Stefanski's alma mater, St. Joesph's Prep in Philadelphia, are Jesuit high schools.

St. Ignatius coach Chuck Kyle reacts during the game against St. X at St. Xavier High School, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020
St. Ignatius coach Chuck Kyle reacts during the game against St. X at St. Xavier High School, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020

Kyle was impressed. Ah, a man who does his homework.

Kyle was in his 14th year as the Ignatius head coach in 1996, when his team beat Canton McKinley 31-24 in a state semifinal battle at a packed Rubber Bowl.

He became a Browns fan decades before that. In fact, in 1967 he scored a touchdown for Ignatius in the Browns' original home, Municipal Stadium, in what was called the Charity High School Game.

"This year's Browns are finding the chemistry a little bit," Kyle said. "They need a couple of games under their belt when they get into a good flow. I think they have that talent.

"The injury factor is scary, no doubt about that. They really have some very good coaches. I'm still optimistic. Let's go."

John "Spider" Miller, East Canton

Miller played for Canton Lincoln in 1975, the school's last season before a consolidation.

He was an assistant coach at McKinley when the Bulldogs lost a state semifinal game to Ignatius at the Rubber Bowl in 1994, when the Bulldogs' quarterback was Josh McDaniels, now the offensive coordinator with the Patriots.

East Canton’s head coach John “Spider” Miller on the sideline during a game against Tuscarawas Central Catholic on Friday, Oct. 8, 2021.
East Canton’s head coach John “Spider” Miller on the sideline during a game against Tuscarawas Central Catholic on Friday, Oct. 8, 2021.

He has followed the Browns since the 1960s.

"I'm impressed with coach and impressed with the coaching staff," he said. "They do things the right way. Sometimes it may not look like it, but those pros are getting coached.

"Overall, when the Browns are healthy, it's tough to beat them. They've been pretty banged up, but from what I see they've got a great attitude. You've got to be mentally tough, and I think they are.

"They do the play-action passes well and try to throw it to all the receivers. I'd say throw it to the tight end a little more, but that's just me.

"When they're healthy, they are pretty dang good.

Antonio Hall, Canton McKinley

There were no Cleveland Browns when Hall played on the offensive and defensive lines for McKinley teams that won 1997 and 1998 state championships.

The Browns were back when Hall was an All-SEC offensive lineman at Kentucky. After a brief stop with the Indianpolis Colts, he played in the Canadian Football League for six years.

McKinley head coach Antonio Hall watches his team during an Oct. 23, 2021 high school football game against Massillon at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.
McKinley head coach Antonio Hall watches his team during an Oct. 23, 2021 high school football game against Massillon at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.

He said Stefanski has done well at working with the modern athlete.

"Being the head coach at that level is all about buy-in," Hall said. "Guys have bought in to his culture.

"It's extremely hard to do if you don't have the right approach. You have guys making way more money than you. You have superstars and egos to deal with ... players saying, 'Why do I have to listen to this guy?' Sometimes that's the hardest thing to combat.

"Given the Browns' circumstances, I think they're doing what they can do. They're kind of making their way through until they can get all of their horses back in the race."

More Canton McKinley Football: McKinley is overwhelmed by explosive St. Edward offense led by Danny Enovitch in OHSAA regional semifinal

Dan DeGeorge, Lake

DeGeorge appreciated Nick Chubb's 70-yard touchdown run at Cincinnati. The former Hoban running back set a Malone Pioneers record with a 78-yard run against Findlay in the 1995 NAIA playoffs.

Lake head coach Dan DeGeorge gestures during a Sept. 24, 2021 high school football game against Jackson at Lake.
Lake head coach Dan DeGeorge gestures during a Sept. 24, 2021 high school football game against Jackson at Lake.

In '95, DeGeorge was like every other Browns fan, appalled the team was moving to Baltimore. Bill Belichick was fired during the transition.

He looks forward to Belichick vs. Stefanski on Sunday.

"I'm definitely a fan of Stefanski," DeGeorge said. "He obviously knows what he's doing.

"I love some of the stuff the Browns do offensively, the multiple sets, the multiple tight ends. I enjoy watching their running game. The way Baker Mayfield operates play action ... I truly enjoy watching that.

"I don't know enough about the OBJ thing, but I do know when you can eliminate some distractions, a lot of times things get better for you. It appears that's what happened with them."

Jay Brophy, Manchester

Brophy was 9, old enough to be disgusted, when the Browns traded future Hall of Famer Paul Warfield to the Dolphins.

He became a Dolphins fan, which partly explains how an Akron kid from Buchtel wound up playing for the Miami Hurricanes. He was an All-America linebacker and a senior on the 1983 team whose quarterbacks were future Browns Vinny Testaverde and Bernie Kosar.

The Miami theme continued when the Dolphins drafted him in the second round in 1984.

Manchester head coach Jay Brophy celebrates a touchdown by Jackson Summers (22) in the first half of Saturday’s game against Edison. (NICK CAMMETT/BEACON JOURNAL)
Manchester head coach Jay Brophy celebrates a touchdown by Jackson Summers (22) in the first half of Saturday’s game against Edison. (NICK CAMMETT/BEACON JOURNAL)

At 61, he follows the Browns closely.

"Kevin Stefanski understands how to use the quarterback and the run game," Brophy said. "He applied that running attack in Minnesota. He used a lot of tight ends and ran the ball.

"He doesn't have Baker Mayfield sitting in the pocket, scrambling and throwing downfield, which is good. Baker isn't great at that. He's great at play action, rolling out and throwing downfield when needed.

"Baker's personality is ... proactive. Put it that way. To me, all quarterbacks are cocky, and I don't like most of 'em because I was a defensive player. Saying that, it seems like he'd be a great teammate.

"He obviously is a hard worker, a guy that's passionate. He's all in on everything. It would probably be great to coach a guy like that."

Nate Moore, Massillon

Ask Moore about the Browns, and his roots as a Bengals fan come out.

"My two-word answer is 'Who dey,'" he says in a nod to the NFL team he grew up with, Cincinnati.

Massillon’s head coach Nate Moore leads the team out onto the field following their defeat of McKinley at Tom Benson Stadium on Saturday, Oct.23, 2021
Massillon’s head coach Nate Moore leads the team out onto the field following their defeat of McKinley at Tom Benson Stadium on Saturday, Oct.23, 2021

Moore was in grade school when the Bengals played in the 1988 Super Bowl. He played high school ball (Mason) and college ball (Dayton) in Bengals country. He was head coach of a state championship team at Cincinnati LaSalle prior to heading to Massillon in 2015.

This is his seventh season in Browns country.

"Sometimes I'll have a game on while I'm working, but I'm not really watching, watching," he said. "I don't watch enough to make a judgment.

"I will say that the Browns have to be one of the best teams in the league in what they do to promote youth football and high school football.

"Their high school relations department is absolutely awesome. Darrell Taylor from that staff is awesome. They put out some clinic tape, some offensive line stuff. They do a lot."

More Massillon Tigers Football: Darrius McElroy, defensive adjustments help Massillon Tigers football take down Big Walnut

Tim Tyrrell, Archbishop Hoban

Tyrrell grew up as a Steelers fan, in Youngstown.

He played for Jim Tressel at Youngstown State and became a head coach at St. Thomas Aquinas. He is in his ninth season at Hoban, which beat Massillon in last year's Division II state finals for its fifth state championship in the last six years.

Hoban football coach Tim Tyrrell speaks with running back Lamar Sperling on the sideline during the first half of a high school football game, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in Akron, Ohio.
Hoban football coach Tim Tyrrell speaks with running back Lamar Sperling on the sideline during the first half of a high school football game, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in Akron, Ohio.

"The only time I don't cheer for the Browns is when they're playing the Steelers," Tyrrell said. "The way they're doing things now makes me more of a Browns fan.

"In my eyes, Coach Stefanski is one of the top five coaches in the NFL. I think he's the next big thing. The Browns need to keep him.

"It just seems to be run more professionally than it was in the past.

"It's not his fault he has worked through a thousand injuries. They've had to battle through a part of the season where they're all beat up."

More Hoban Knights Football: Archbishop Hoban marches on in football playoffs for seventh year in a row

Brian Baum, North Canton Hoover

Baum's dad was such a Browns fan that he became interested as a kindergarten kid following the 1980 "Kardiac Kids."

Hoover head coach Brian Baum instructs his team during a Sept. 24, 2021 high school football game against McKinley at Memorial Stadium.
Hoover head coach Brian Baum instructs his team during a Sept. 24, 2021 high school football game against McKinley at Memorial Stadium.

"It seems like the Browns have been trying to turn that corner for a long time," said Baum, whose team won the 2021 Federal League championship. "They've done a nice job amassing talent. Stefanski has done a nice job livening things up.

"That's a difficult job he has. The guys have egos. The coaches themselves are very competitive.

"I'm sure it can be very frustrating for a head coach at that level, dealing with all the attitudes and egos and personality types, trying to mesh things together into one viewpoint."

More Federal League Football: Canton McKinley's Harold Fannin, North Canton Hoover's Brian Baum lead All-Federal League football honors

Brian Gamble, Sandy Valley

Gamble's mother was a big fan of former Browns QB Brian Sipe, 1980 NFL MVP. His prized possessions include a Sipe autograph and a Sipe jersey.

Gamble had an unusual vantage point when the Browns were interviewing candidates to replace Freddie Kitchens after the 2019 season.

Sandy Valley head football coach Brian Gamble leads practice at the school on Tuesday, August 17, 2021.
Sandy Valley head football coach Brian Gamble leads practice at the school on Tuesday, August 17, 2021.

"I was hoping for Stefanski or Josh McDaniels," Gamble said. "I'm friends with the McDaniels family. Thom (Josh's father) does a good job with (Sandy Valley's) quarterbacks in the offseason.

"Whether it was Josh or Stefanski, I hoped for some type of new vision.

"Stefanski is the reigning coach of the year. For the first time in forever we have an identity, and it's an identity that matches our skill set, on a team built to run the ball and use play action."

Tim Budd, Jackson

Eric Mangini, Pat Shurmur, Rob Chudzinski, Mike Pettine, Hue Jackson, Gregg Williams, Kitchens and Stefanski have taken turns as Browns head coaches since Budd became a season-ticket holder in 2009.

Jackson head coach Tim Budd instructs his team during an Aug. 20, 2021 high school football game against Akron East at Robert Fife Stadium.
Jackson head coach Tim Budd instructs his team during an Aug. 20, 2021 high school football game against Akron East at Robert Fife Stadium.

"I would say my support has been unwavering, especially through a lot of bad football," said Budd, who tends to farm out his tickets when the high school season is on.

"Kevin Stefanski has brought steady leadership to a position that has been ... tumultuous," said Budd, who just completed his seventh year at Jackson with a 9-3 finish. "He's the same guy week in and week out. He's done a good job implementing his system.

"On the OBJ thing, a lot goes on behind the scenes that's over the coach's head, but he has to speak on it. That's not an enviable position.

"The Browns play with a lot more confidence and composure than they have in the past. Injuries. Close games. It's a very fickle league. Every week they'll be playing for playoff position. This is two years they've been competitive. It's a step in the right direction."

Jeff "Trucker" Lindesmith, Canton Central Catholic

Lindesmith began working at Central Catholic five months before the 1986 Browns were on the verge of winning the AFC title game in Municipal Stadium.

Central Catholic head coach Jeff Lindesmith instructs T'Kye Wells (11) during a Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021 high school football game at Central against Perry.
Central Catholic head coach Jeff Lindesmith instructs T'Kye Wells (11) during a Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021 high school football game at Central against Perry.

He spent most of his 35 years at Central on Lowell Klinefelter's football staff and has been head coach the last eight years, winning one state title.

"I've spent my life in Canton and I've been a lifelong Browns supporter," Lindesmith said. "The Browns have an outstanding roster on both sides of the ball. All of the moves they made in the offseason strengthened their defense. If they get healthy, they have a real good team.

"Kevin Stefanski is very impressive. I especially like what they do offensively ... all kinds of different formations, how their various zone plays give their running backs angles to take and gaps to hit.

"His organizational skills seem great. He seems to be a good disciplinarian."

Scott Garcia, GlenOak

GlenOak head coach Scott Garcia gestures during an Aug. 27, 2021 football game at Massillon.
GlenOak head coach Scott Garcia gestures during an Aug. 27, 2021 football game at Massillon.

Garcia has followed the Browns since the late 1970s and call himself a "die-hard." He was a lineman on arguably GlenOak's greatest team, a run-oriented 1985 squad that beat McKinley in the regular season and barely lost to the Bulldogs in the playoffs. McKinley went to the state finals that year.

"I love to run the ball," Garcia said. "The Browns are running a balanced, physical style of offense that has been great to watch the last couple of years.

"They've had some great draft picks and built a really solid units on both sides of the ball. You can see a noticeable difference in discipline from previous coaches. They're working together as a team.

"They've had some injuries but they're getting people back. If the injury bug doesn't bite them too much, I think they have as good a chance as anybody to win it all."

Reach Steve at steve.doerschuk@cantonrep.com

On Twitter: @sdoerschukREP

This article originally appeared on The Repository: High school football coaches talk Kevin Stefanski, Browns

Source : https://finance.yahoo.com/news/think-hes-next-big-thing-110138868.html

3868
Think hes the next big thing: High school football coaches talk Kevin Stefanski, Browns

Source:Yahoo Finance

Think hes the next big thing: High school football coaches talk Kevin Stefanski, Browns