With the beginning of the high school football season just over a week away, preparation for the 2012 campaign is at a fever pitch. Area teams began practice early last week, and coaching staffs across the city are implementing two-a-day sessions to get their players ready for kickoff on Aug. 31.
It’s a lot of work to cram into a short amount of time, which is especially true in the case of Jim Adams, who has taken over for Chris Riley as Northeast High School’s head football coach. Riley, also the school’s athletic director, had been calling the shots for the Vikings football program since the 2009 season and decided to step down as head coach earlier this year. In his place stepped Adams, an energetic coach and Riley disciple, who hopes to leapfrog Frankford and Washington in a very demanding Public League. The Vikings aspire to return to the league title game, which they last won under Riley in 2010.
The Northeast Times caught up with Adams on the eve of the 2012 season:
Northeast Times: Give some of the folks a little background on yourself.
Jim Adams: I’m from Telford, Pennsylvania, and graduated from Pennridge High School in 1987. From there, I graduated from Kutztown University in 1992 and played football there until I had reconstructive surgery on my right knee. I started teaching in the Philadelphia School District in 1993 at Parkway Gamma High School and have been teaching at Northeast since 2006, having been an assistant football coach there since ’08.
NET: What circumstances led you to taking the Northeast job?
Adams: Coach Riley decided to step down and there was a need for a head coach. I was an assistant of his and he encouraged me to seriously consider taking the position, which I did, and here I am today.
NET: What are the main differences in coaching styles between you and Coach Riley?
Adams: Well, my high school coaching experience is greatly influenced by Coach Riley since I was a member of his staff. As far as major changes, not having Chris Riley on the staff as head coach is a major change in and of itself. He had a very structured system, some of which was retained.
NET: Chris is still the school’s athletic director. Does it help having him there as an adviser as you prepare for your first season as head coach?
Adams: Coach Riley has always been very helpful as a colleague and a friend. I can bounce ideas off of him and he gives advice.
NET: What’s the biggest challenge to being a first-year head coach, especially in a tough league like the Philadelphia Public League?
Adams: I don’t think I have a definitive answer for you on that one just yet. I am looking at this like it is the first year of teaching. There are many experiences that you need to go through, try the best you can and then evaluate how things go once all the dust settles at the end of the season.
NET: Speaking of, the league should be a minefield as usual, with Frankford and Washington having played for the title last year.
Adams: I’ll tell you what, Frankford and Washington are always going to be major challenges. They have well-prepared kids and strong coaching staffs.
NET: What players have stuck out to you so far in practice?
Adams: The seniors this year are the ones going through the greatest transition, so I’d say the senior class for successfully transitioning to the new coaching staff led by offensive coordinator Dave Davis, defensive coordinator Warren Cosby and awesome assistants Joe Blee, Seth Shapiro and Derrick Johns.
NET: What guys will you really miss?
Adams: As an educator for 18 years, I have gotten used to kids leaving, sometimes due to graduation and sometimes due to other circumstances. It’s just something that you get used to, but you still welcome them back with open arms if and when they return.
NET: The 2011 team finished 7-5 overall, but was a little inconsistent until the final three games, all wins. Can this team build on that, or is it a completely new slate?
Adams: The 2011 season had a great amount of adversity due to key injuries and that team did show a great amount of resilience. Our strong end of the season definitely created some momentum for this season. We have some great kids at Northeast.
NET: What are you most looking forward to being a head coach at this school in this league?
Adams: The rivalry with Washington, playing at Frankford on a crisp October Saturday morning and the great crowd that comes out and roots for their team at the traditional Thanksgiving Day game against Central. And someday, a mid-December victory in Hershey.
NET: Week one versus Neshaminy is less than two weeks away. What does the team need to improve upon in order to have a successful opening night?
Adams: We need to play as a team, where all 11 players on the field do their job and trust the guy next to him to do his. Confidence is important and my staff is working hard on getting the players prepared to know their jobs and to have the confidence and belief that they can accomplish their tasks.
NET: On the whole, what are your expectations for this team?
Adams: Expect this team to be competitive and to give their best effort at all times.
NET: How have the guys responded to two-a-days so far in the summer heat?
Adams: Overall, the first week of camp went well. The kids have been working really hard and coming prepared to be trained by the coaching staff. Kids have been coming to camp well hydrated and bringing snacks and lunch to keep their energy up.
NET: What is the most important goal you’re striving toward as a first-year head coach?
Adams: I want the kids, staff and parents to have an overall good experience. I want the kids to learn all the lessons that the sport of football teaches: hard work, delayed gratification, adversity, teamwork, how to handle winning and how to handle losing… but hopefully not so much of that last one.
NET: Two seasons ago, Northeast won the Public League title. What does this team have to do to leap over the likes of Frankford and Washington?
Adams: L.U.C.K. — Labor Under Controlled Knowledge. Also, block and tackle better than our opponent on any given day and we will be right back there (with those teams). ••
For more on the upcoming high school football season, check back in next week’s Northeast Times for a complete, comprehensive preview on all seven area teams.EndFragment
**Games subject to change
Week 1 (8/31): vs. Neshaminy, 6 p.m.
Week 2 (9/7): vs. Lincoln, 6 p.m.
Week 3 (9/14): vs. Southern, 6:30 p.m.
Week 4 (9/21): at Frankford, 3 p.m.
Week 5 (9/28): vs. Fels, 6:30 p.m.
Week 6 (10/5): at Central, 3 p.m.
Week 7 (10/12): vs. Germantown, 6:30 p.m.
Week 8 (10/18): vs. Washington, 6 p.m.
Week 9 (10/27): at Furness, 10 a.m. (at Southern)
Week 10 (11/2): at West Phila., 2:30 p.m. (at Bartram)
Week 11 (11/9): vs. Gratz, 6:30 p.m.
Week 12 (11/22): vs. Central, 10 a.m. (Thanksgiving Day)