Interview with Head Varsity Football Coach, Klay Kubiak
Liam Smith ‘20
I interviewed Strake Jesuit Varsity Head Football Coach, Klay Kubiak:
How confident are you, going into the season against this new district of schools we have transferred to?
“I am confident in general. I think we have a good group of guys. A lot of hard working guys. I’m not overconfident because it takes a lot of hard work to win football games and to have a successful team. I’m confident we’re going to work hard, be prepared, and we’ll see how it goes from there”
What teams will you be looking forward to playing this year?
“All of them. All of our games are important. St. Thomas is a big game, but it’s our first game. Everyone gets excited for the first game and from there on out, every team we play is brand-new. I look forward to playing them all. We’ve never played them before, or this program hasn’t played them in a long time. So everything will be new and exciting.”
Are there any notable players that you’re excited to see play? Are there any players who might play division 1 football?
“We have a handful of players who have already have scholarships. Some key guys are:
- Jeb Bush – multiple scholarships
- Denzel Blackwell – multiple scholarships
- Grant Keneally
- Nathaniel Beal
- Michael Wiley
- Thomas Gordon
- Caleb Crawford
- Dylan Campbell
- Michael Hansen
“I know I must not listing everyone but, we got a lot of guys that can play college football.”
How did you get into coaching? And what would you recommend to people who want to become coaches?
“I’m the only member in my family not to go straight into sports. I started out as a teacher. I got my masters degree in English right after college. When I got hired to Strake Jesuit, I started teaching, and I was coaching part-time as an assistant, and over the past five years I’ve grown to love it. I didn’t intend on doing it at first, but it happened, and I fell in love with it.
“Coaching is teaching. The best coaches I’ve been around have considered themselves good teachers and motivators. People see coaching, and think it’s all about the screaming and the adrenaline, especially in football. If you want to become a coach, be a student of the sport you play by studying it and think about what motivates the kind of players who play for you. Because if I’m the coach and I can’t motivate players and they don’t understand the game, I’m not doing my fundamental job as a coach.
“I think going into education is a good way to get involved in coaching. There’s a lot of educators who become high school coaches from just spending so much time in that profession that it grows on them. It can lead them on into larger coaching, collegiate and professional levels. Education is a really good way to do it.”
What type of offense does Strake Jesuit run? What are the strengths and weaknesses of running this offensive scheme?
“We run a pro-style offense. It’s distinguished from the spread offenses you see in high school and college football where they might have four wide receivers on the field. A pro-style offense is where you have two running backs on the field and a tight end. You’re operating out of the I-formation and your primary objective is to run the football and set up play-action. We huddle up every play; we don’t typically use the no-huddle mechanic. Our objective isn’t to play as fast as we can but to play in order to control the game, the clock, and the line of scrimmage. And to make really big plays with play-action.
“One weakness is that most kids play spread offense in youth football. When they come to Strake Jesuit, we have to teach them a different system of play. That’s one drawback, but that’s not something that prevents us from performing in-game. Another drawback is that the pro-style offense can be difficult to understand. It’s more complex than the spread offense with different terminology. So there’s that learning curve. But once you learn it and understand it, it can become really effective. I wouldn’t run it if I didn’t think it was effective.”
What type of defense do we play?
“We play a 3-4 defense. Three defensive linemen and for linebackers. Our defense sees a lot of spread offenses. So we have a scheme where we’re trying to get as many fast and agile athletes on the field as possible. The benefits are that our defense is really good at tackling in space and defending the up-tempo spread offenses that are common in high school. I don’t see many weaknesses in our defense. They’re really aggressive and smart players and I think it’s a great scheme for our kids.”
How do you practice against the spread offense if you run a pro-style offense in-game?
“We have to replicate the opponent’s offense from what we know through scouting (we call it a scout look). We have to show the defense that look throughout the week. Our offense, even though it’s not a spread, has some plays that are spread-like. So we do the best to show the defense that look throughout the week leading up to the game.”
How do you split the program between coaches?
“We have 7 or 8 freshman coaches; about 10 varsity coaches. We try to meet as a staff once a week. It is a challenge as there are so many people in different places all the time. Most of them know me pretty well. It’s a collaborative effort–we all work together. What’s new to me is being the leader and giving the direction. It’s been great though, they all work really hard, they all love our school, and I think that’s all I can ask for.”
How do you teach AP Language and coach?
“That’s what I love about working at Strake Jesuit. I get to do both. I get to take a break from football and teach literature, language, and writing. And throughout the day, I can work on lesson planning. I think it’s good to have a balance. I get to do two things I really care about and that’s why love working here.”
Anything you want to tell the Strake Jesuit community about this season?
“The football team appreciates their support more than they will know. When we have fans out at the games, when we have a student body who’s getting excited for our football games, it means a lot to the team. It means a lot to our guys who are working hard everyday, that they have people who care about them and who want them to do well. So their support means a lot to the players and serves the program. I tell my players, ‘We’re a part of this school like everyone else. We’re not special. We have to represent the community.’ I just want our student body to know that we support them and we appreciate their support as well. We hope to see you all come out to the games this season.”
Last question, wil Strake beat St. Thomas?
“Well, all I can say is the better team will win.”
Looks like we were the better team.