How We Coach: Will Compton, James Earl Rudder HS (TX)

How We Coach is a weekly series that deconstructs how coaches run their program: we explore their unique process, habits, practices, and coaching philosophies. Find out what keeps coaches up at night, how they teach, and what they do to improve every day. #HowWeCoach

Today we’re getting insights from Will Compton, Athletic Coordinator and Head Football Coach at Rudder HS- a 5A school in Texas with about 1650 students.

Could you provide a brief description of your background?
I am currently the Athletic Coordinator and Head Football Coach at Rudder High School. Prior to being a Head Coach, I spent 9 years as an Offensive Coordinator at some of the state’s top programs. I was able to work at schools like Refugio, La Marque, and John Tyler. While at those schools I coached just about every position on the Offensive side. Over the past 7 years, I have been coaching QB’s. I have been blessed to have several good ones along the way.  I had the pleasure of coaching some great athletes like Greg Ward (UH), Kolton Browning (ULM), Fred Ross (Miss St) they made the offense look really good. We run an Air Raid based pass game with a run game that is based on zone, power, and GT.

Where did you grow up, go to school?
I grew up in a small West Texas town called Seagraves. My dad was a coach there for 22 years. After graduating HS in 1998 I went to play football at Angelo State University. I played football for 3 years and then began to play Rugby at Angelo. I graduated with a BS in Kinesiology in 2002.

How did you end up coaching football?
My dad is a coach. I remember seeing the impact that he had on kids lives and I always knew that is what I wanted to do as well.

Can you give a bit of background on your program?
I am going into my 3rd year at Rudder. Rudder is 8 years old and is still trying to take off the ground. We have a population that is low socio-economic and extremely diverse. When I got to Rudder it was not a program only 13 sports existing on one campus. We have made some great strides to try and build that program and a sense of school pride.

As a team, what are your core tenants/pillars?
Faith – Family- Fight- Finish. These are things that we talk about daily with our football players. We have to have faith in the process. This program was not broke overnight and will not be fixed overnight. We have to have faith in our coaches. That they are putting us in the best position to be successful. We also have to have Faith that there is something bigger than me out there. I firmly believe that we were put here for a reason. Family- this was something the kids really bought into. A lot of our kids come from a single-parent family. We wanted our field house and our team to resemble a positive family aspect. Where we could foster relationships and trust between our players and coaches. Fight – “Compete” in everything that we do or for anything that we want. Finish – It seems to be a growing trend in our youth that we would rather quit than lose. We want to teach our kids to finish everything that you start. When it’s over if you want to part ways no problem but be committed to giving your best till it is done.

What’s your main philosophy as a coach?
I want to build young men and women that will be successful after their playing career is over. We have to build up the character of our athletes and teach them how to positively handle adversity.

Defensive philosophy?
Hold them to 1 less than our Offense scores. We are moving to a blended 4-2-5. We want our kids to be able to line up and play fast.

Offensive philosophy?
Score 1 more than our Defense gives up. We use multiple formations and try to limit the number of schemes that we use. We base our passing game from the Air Raid but have made some adjustments to fit our kids. We will use 3 blocking schemes zone, power, GT. We will use personnel groupings if we have them and love to use motion to move or dictate the defense. Our QB will be the centerpoint of the Offense.

Special teams philosophy?
This is an area that I feel is critical in the game. We want to be extremely sound in our special teams and try to steal points if possible. We want our kids excited to be on special teams.

How many is on your coaching staff?
We have 15 HS coaches counting myself.

When does a new season start?
We have several phases to our Off-Season. As soon as the season is over we enter our Phase 1 which is about 6 weeks where we are in the weight room 4 days a week with a competition day on Friday. Next we hit our “Boot Camp” Phase where we will strive for the perfect day. This will last 2-6 weeks. Next we enter Phase 2 where our skill is outside 3 days a week and weight room 2 days a week. The Oline/Dline are opposite. We want to get better at agility during this time as well as continue to build strength. Phase 3 is Spring Football it is the last week of April – end of May. This is all Football.

How do you kick off your planning and preparation?
We meet every Monday morning to map out the week. After basketball, we meet an additional 1 time a week to start talking football.

What is your main focus areas during the off-season?
To create a team. We must find new leaders and help them develop their leadership skills. We want to build up the character of our athletes and re-enforce the discipline of our team. Like everyone else we want to get bigger faster and stronger as well.

How does a normal week play out? What are the key “milestones”?
Currently our skill kids are outside 3 days a week. We will do football skills 2 days a week and then agility and skills 1 day a week. Then linemen are in the weight room during those days. We are trying to build strength and explosion. One thing that we always do is have a coach do a character talk a day. I give the coaches a topic for the week and then they come up with a 5-minute character talk. This is how we start off our day.

How do you run your scout team?
We try to get as much “good on good” as we can. We have Defensive coaches assigned to run Offensive scout teams and Offensive coaches run the scout teams for the Defense.

How do you work with in-game adjustments?
We do what we call “Live Bench”. After each series all coaches and players go to the bench with the whiteboards and talk about what we see and how we will adjust. We do not let our kids or coaches stand up and watch the game. We want them talking with the kids the whole time. After talking about adjustments QB and WR throw and catch on the sidelines. 3rd Down alert we will have kids get up and go to the sidelines. If we get a stop then they are ready to go, if not we have them go back to the bench.

I read an article about the Houston Texans and how they work on the gameplan. They said it was a collaborative process – how do you run it in your program? Is it also a collaborative process for  your team?
It is a collaborative process of setting up a game plan. Offensively I really like to set the game plan based on formations. Going through and breaking down where the Defense has alignment issues.

Which tools and process do you use when preparing for an opponent?
We use Hudl for all of our video trade. Coaches are assigned to different parts of thebreakdown. This is all done on Saturday after a Friday game. We will use Max Preps for stats. We do not hand out scouting reports anymore. We have a board in the locker room that has everything that would be in an Offensive/Defensive/Special Teams scouting report.

What’s your process for post-game follow-up?
We come back in the next day and grade each position and post grades in the locker room. We will watch film together as a staff and see what areas we can build off of and what areas do we need to develop a plan to finish.

Young players today are they different from 10 years ago?
The need for relationships is bigger now than ever. The days of doing something because coach told you are almost gone. We have to spend more time developing relationships with athletes. We also need to let them ask why. Some coaches have a problem with this. What we have learned is when a player knows exactly why he is doing something and how it will benefit him. We also have to spend more time informing our kids what to and what not to post on social media.

How do you maximize their learning and engage them?
The use of technology has been key. We have to teach how to watch film. Also I have found that if we will get out there and show them what we mean it helps. I coach QB’s and frequently jump in to show him exactly what I was talking about.

What’s your process to getting players into the playbook?
Video playbooks have been good for us. I will bring in the QB’s and make them draw everything just I do our coaches. Watching cutups of good and bad plays has been the best teaching tool.

What’s your morning routine?
I wake up about 5:00-5:30 and get on the elliptical in my garage. I am at the office no later than 7:00am each morning. Depends a lot on if my wife has to go in early or not. When I get to school I do my FCA daily coaches devotional.

What’s your go to play on 3rd and short
In the past, it was a rollout with a Go by #1 and a 3-5 yard quick out by #2. But as of late I like running 32/33 zone with the WR running a sail concept.

If you could only one play for an entire game- what would it be?
Inside Zone with Wr on a quick out or sail concept.

Who are your coaching influences?
My dad is my 1st, Coach Jim Hamilton, Coach Reid- Angelo State, Dereck Rush (John Tyler and Oak Ridge), Marty Criswell

Who inspires you as a leader/coach?
Jon Gordon and Rod Olson for leadership love their books and have had a serious impact on my coaching. Trusting in the One that put me here.


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Michael Hoglund

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