NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Titans have named Westwood High School's Mckale Jones of Memphis their Week 10 High School Coach of the Week.
Coach Jones and his Westwood Longhorns have had a challenging season, but were able to end it with a win, defeating the Douglass Red Devils 20 – 12. The victory gave the club its first win of the season and was a positive step forward heading into the offseason.
Despite the challenging season, it did not diminish Coach Jones' focus on his players' safety. Westwood High School's football program is a member of USA Football's Heads Up Football program. Jones joined in an effort to decrease injury risks as his players compete. We talked with Coach Jones about his work to make the game safer for his Longhorns.
Coach Jones, why did you decide to sign up for Heads Up Football?
Well one for one thing, I think it's a great movement and initiative because it teaches our players to be safe. This game of football is all about safety and that's one reason why I liked the program. We teach our players how to tackle appropriately to prevent any type of harm and injury.
With that being said, did you see a big difference in the way your players tackle?
Yes, we (coaches) saw significant improvement with our players as the season went along – all our players progressed. We basically worked on proper tackling techniques every week, even in the summer. That's what we emphasized and stressed to our players - appropriate tackling to reduce any kind of injuries.
Was it a hard sale to get your assistants to buy into the Heads Up tackling training?
*For me, it was easy – all my assistants are great, and I appreciate them – but my defensive coordinator was big on the initiative. He always had the team doing drills every week. Doing different tackling drills he saw from the program as well. So we did that just about every week and through the summer too. It was pretty easy for my coaches to buy into the program because we are all about safety. *
Did your team parents notice a difference? Did they say anything to you?
*They didn't (say anything) but of course they (parents) appreciated the program because it reduced injuries. Like I said before, it really helped us out as far as reducing any type of neck injury or concussion. So we were blessed with that part. * As the Coach of the Week winner, Coach Jones will receive a $1,000 grant benefiting the Westwood High School football program. The grant can be used to improve equipment or simply buy new items.
The Tennessee Titans have provided grants for teams across the state for over 15 years. Over that period, the Titans have provided $184,000 toward the Titans High School Coach of the Week grant program to improve the game throughout Tennessee.
Click HERE to learn more about the Heads Up Football Program!