Part 1: Junior Varsity downplayed, has tremendous value for players and programs. 

"It prepares them earlier for varsity which then exposes them to college coaches sooner. Also their fundamentals and football IQ are better." - Bob Hudson, East Lake
“It prepares them earlier for varsity which then exposes them to college coaches sooner. Also their fundamentals and football IQ are better.” – Bob Hudson, East Lake

The building blocks of any successful varsity football program should be the junior varsity team. Programs build through their junior varsity opposed to transfers. The benefits of a properly run junior varsity program spread far. However, building that program takes some creativity, time and funds. “Make sure you have a staff to assist. Let your JV Coaches Coach! Give them a plan and parameters and cut it loose” said  Ken Crawford head football coach at Pinellas Park. “Make sure you can pay your coaches. In Pinellas we only get 6 supplements total, 3 varsity 3 JV. This is not enough!  Generally JV teams harbor 50-100 kids. The more quality instruction, the better they will get. The less coaches, the less improvement.” Crawford added. 

In theory, the varsity and the junior varsity run the same schemes, practice the same and do many of the same drills. Sounds good, but does not always workout that way. Wiregrass Ranch head football coach Mark Kantor states that the Varsity staff should assist as much as possible:

1.  Follow same rules as the Varsity
2.  Meet with Varsity staff and follow the same type of practice schedule as Varsity
3.  Film analysis of their game and understand how to watch it and make necessary corrections

This would help the junior varsity players transition to varsity in time. Former Hillsborough High School junior varsity coach, former Middleton head football coach and current varsity assistant coach at Hillsborough High school has a unique perspective.  “The way any school can assist a Junior Varsity program is by 1) Letting the kids know that there is only one football team on campus. Do not separate Varsity and junior varsity.  Even though we may know that there are two teams. Knowing the younger players coming in, they are the future of the program. 2) The varsity staff should be willing to help out in any way possible. I think by at least having all players interact with each other often, when it comes to practice all players, varsity and JV should if nothing else run all individual drills together and there should be a time when the varsity staff takes the time to meet with the JV staff and show them how it’s being done at the varsity level so it will look the same to the younger players. 3) The head varsity coach should make it a point to let the JV players know that he’s concerned for them just as he is with the Varsity.”

As Coach Ashwood stated, the junior varsity players are the future of the varsity program. The better programs have junior varsity teams that mirror the varsity program. Many times, the varsity staff is present at 1 or 2 junior varsity practices during the week and present during each home game. Depending on who you ask, the junior varsity team should be running many of the same plays as the varsity, using much of the same terminolgy and play names. East Lake head varsity football coach, Bob Hudson is a big proponent of this this practice,

“Help them whenever possible. Spend time teaching them the varsity playbook and how to teach good fundamentals.”

East Lake has been very successful in recent years. Much can be contributed to the development of their players systematically moved up for the junior varsity program and become major contributors on the varsity team.

This is part one of a three part series highlighting the benefits of a properly ran junior varsity football program.

“It’s like the minor leagues. If you pull a kid up he is ready to compete quicker and they should be disciplined enough to be ready for varsity.” – Bob Hudson, East Lake

Part 2: Junior Varsity downplayed, The Benefits For a College Prospect
Part 3: Junior Varsity Downplayed, Struggles Hold Back Programs