Connecting with Coaches

CONCORD, N.C. --- In North Carolina's continuing in-state efforts, several assistant coaches were featured speakers during Jay M. Robinson High School's football coaching clinic on Tuesday evening.

"When I was at Monroe we always tried to sponsor a clinic there," Robinson head football coach Bobby Cloninger said. "We did it with Gunter [Brewer] when he was [first at UNC]. So I called him several months ago and told him we'd like to put something on for the area. I called him and I said, ‘Let's do this.' I think the timing is right with the new staff coming in. The interest is – I think – at an all-time high. You have the [NCHSAA] realignment going on. You have new [high] schools. New people involved.

"We feel like the more we can do for football in the area, the more it's going to grow. The more it's going to be beneficial for our program and everybody else in the area."

Brewer, along with fellow Tar Heel assistant coaches Blake Anderson, Chris Kapilovic, and Vic Koenning immediately accepted the invitation.

"[The UNC coaches] were very, very welcoming as far as wanting to help with this type of thing," Cloninger said.

During the clinic, which was held at the Hendrick Motorsports Museum, Anderson, Brewer, and Kapilovic broke down concepts of UNC's newly installed no-huddle, one-back spread offense, while Koenning discussed aspects of the 4-2-5 defense he has helped bring to UNC. Over 70 coaches representing the area's high schools – including Charlotte Catholic, Mallard Creek, Butler, and A.L. Brown – were in attendance.

"When you can get a bunch of coaches together who are just trying to learn a little bit more football and there's no competition involved whatsoever and just sit around and have a good time and just talk football, it's a blessing," Mallard Creek offensive coordinator Aaron Brand said. "We're just tickled to death that Carolina would take their time to fill us in and let us be a part of their world."

Several schools in the area, including Mallard Creek, run a version of the spread offense. Thus, many in attendance were able to relate and absorb ideas from the concepts UNC's offensive assistant coaches discussed.

"Just seeing what they do and how it compares to what we do is beneficial," Brand said. "Seeing that they are using a lot of the same concepts as we are allows us to build on what we already do."

Besides sharing the aspects of their system, the UNC coaches were able to further develop relationships and reiterate UNC's overall message.

"I'll say this about this staff: they are down-to-earth; they are going to be very accessible to the high school coaches; and I think they're going to bring a different outlook in football to Chapel Hill," Clonginger said. "It's going to be an exciting concept that's new to the area and new to the state. And I think they'll be very successful. Obviously they've come into some tough times, but their attitude is ‘Hey, we have to do what we have to do and we'll get through it.'"

When he was hired last November, Larry Fedora vowed to dedicate special attention to the in-state high school coaches. Both Cloninger and Brand feel the assistant coaches' willingness to break away from their hectic schedules during the Evaluation Period to speak at the clinic supports Fedora's vow.

"This right here speaks volumes about how the [UNC] coaches want to get a foothold into this area," Cloninger said. "Of course all coaches in the state do. But I think [UNC] is making a concerted effort to get here, make contacts, and do a good job."

Brand added: "The fact that they've shown they want to connect with the high school coaches, that's big."

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