Imagine a program moving from being ranked #2782 in the Nation to #1 in just eight seasons. From #218 in California to #1. How does that happen?

Jason Negro inherited a good St. John Bosco football team.  But not a great one, most certainly not the program they are now.  In fact, in 2009, the year before he got there, they were ranked #773 nationally, and #90 in California (according to MaxPreps).  Fast forward just four years, to 2013, and he launched them all the way to the #1 ranking in America and California.  Not too shabby!  In 2016, they finished the year as the top ranked team in California, and #2 in the Nation.

Coach Negro came to Bosco, a private Catholic school from Trabuco Hills, a public school in Southern California.  He was at Trabuco for seven years.  So, he brings a unique perspective to program building: having had 7 years in both the public and private sectors.

St. John Bosco head coach Jason Negro congratulates his team on a touchdown against Bishop Gorman during a football game between national powerhouses at Veterans Memorial Stadium, Friday, September 09, 2016, Long Beach, CA. Bosco held a 20-14 lead at halftime. Photo by Steve McCrank, Press Telegram/SCNG
St. John Bosco head coach Jason Negro congratulates his team on a touchdown against Bishop Gorman during a football game between national powerhouses at Veterans Memorial Stadium, Friday, September 09, 2016, Long Beach, CA. Bosco held a 20-14 lead at halftime. Photo by Steve McCrank, Press Telegram/SCNG

He recently spoke at the Southern California Football Coaches Association clinic about program development.  And I thought it was a tremendous talk.  He really took us behind the scenes of that program.  The criticism of Bosco football is “anybody can win with all of those athletes.”  That’s why I started with what I started with: being ranked #773 the year before Negro took over.  There is not a doubt that his vision and ability has driven that program to where it is today.  And guess what happens when you win?  If you build it, they will come.

He started the talk discussing how people just want to call plays nowadays.  And I agree with that.  Many coaches don’t want to actually put in the work that it really takes to win football games.  You’ve got to build a culture, and that is what he’s done at Boscot.  They are 850 students strong, all boys.  And 85% of them play sports.  Nice culture to be in the middle of.  Obviously, a school culture there that lends itself to good football.

The following is an outline of this talk.

Why do I Coach?

  1. It is important to remember that these are people, not just schemes.
  2. This can never be ignored.
  3. You must have a commitment to teach, to inspire.
  4. To develop people.
  5. Throughout your career, you’ll be presented with situations that supercede traditional xs and os.  Situations that a clinic can’t prepare you for. When difficult things happen, you need to thrive.
  6. I’m a competitor and I love to win and hate to lose!  We always try to win.

Getting Started – Building A Champion

Develop A Philosophy

It takes the entire school.  The admin, the coaches, the alumni, staff, students, etc.  They are all a part of it.  Building a champion embodies a commitment from all aspects.

  1. Mission of the program is to provide an inspirational and highly enthusiastic environment for each and every student-athlete at St. John Bosco High School.
  2. Emphasize the importance and development of fundamentals and teach what is necessary for a positive experience in football and life.
  3. Be proud to be a brave

Critical Areas For Program Development

  1. Willingness to change and improve as a coach
  2. Steal when you have a chance from experts – I’ve stolen a lot from Coach White (Edison Head Coach for 38 years), Bob Johnson (Mission Viejo State Champion Head Coach), etc.  It’s good when we all share together.
  3. Surround yourself with quality people, those that are better than you. My coordinators are both better x and o guys than me.  
  4. Give your program a shot in the arm every now and then. Got this idea from Steve Bogan at South Hills.  He heard Steve at a clinic say that you’re going to have to do something different so that the program doesn’t get “stale.”  Maybe it’s a uniform change, a helmet change, how you practice, music at practice, etc.
  5. Continue to get better. You’ve always got to get better.
  6. Battling giants – schedule up – don’t be afraid to schedule “up.”  You’ve got to be creative with scheduling, play better competition to get your own program better.
  7. Solicit community involvement
  8. Yearly staff and self evaluation
  9. Have realistic expectations
  10. Develop athletes with a year round approach.  Got to get kids bigger, faster and stronger.  He spoke about starting back on 1/9/17, after winning the State Championship on 12/17/16.  “We didn’t really even have time to reflect and enjoy 2016.  But it is what it is.”
  11. Appearance of your facilities, your program, etc


Winter Months

Season wrap up

Self evaluation

Staff evaluation


Design your new game plan for the upcoming season

Spring months

Administrative logistics

Foundational skills – lifting/speed

Multiple sports – they lift just as much as football only guys.  At Bosco, we have 7 periods – athletes are all in a lifting period, instead of a traditional PE class.  Since 85% of our kids play sports, they all lift.  The football only guys also workout after school.

Player relationship building

Solidify coaching staff.

Summer Months

Finalize the season game plan

Practice, lifting, competition

Player evaluation

Coaches retreat

Fall Months

Execution of game plan

Regular season




Practice Organization – In Season

  1. Have an organized plan and stick to it.
  2. Like a classroom you need to be prepared before you get on the field.  
  3. Communicate with staff and know their availibility
  4. Have the field and drills set up so you can be efficient as possible
  5. Break your practice segments into as “game like” situations as possible
  6. Map out your practice locations for your coaches so there is little wasted time
  7. Use detailed practice plans and hold each coach accountable to the drills and times on the plan
  8. Use daily scripts for inside run, 7 on 7, team drills – In Spring, it’s Bosco vs. Bosco – no play cards
  9. Provide script cards for the scout team coaches that are clearly understood by coaches and players
  10. Set practice times and stick to them


The Game Week

Saturday – day after the game: 7:30 am – 3:00 pm

Coaches only, no interaction with the players

Athletes come in for treatment if they need it – Athletic Trainer puts together an injury report for me

Film exchange is complete and all games from the night before are shared before 8 am. (The Trinity League shares every film of the season; they all send their games to each other as the season progresses)

Staff discussions – overview of last night’s game

Assess injuries – what do we need to do adjust for next week

Break down and grade each player from last night’s game

Each side of the ball watches one opponent together – this is important get on the same page with the language you’re using

Begin film break down

Start computer breakdown via Hudl

All coaches complete work today

Sunday: 10:00 am – 2:00 pm

Staff discussion – what do we need to do in order to win this game?

Flush out deas as to what we think we need to do

Assess player injuries – establish new depth charts – plan for the injured guy NOT to play

Begin game planning for next opponent

Complete film cut ups for players

Create scouting reports – generated from computer analysis

Draw script cards

Create practice scripts

Coordinators present game plan to the HC

Monday: 2:50 – 6:15 pm

Dress:  Helmets/shoulder pads/shorts

Weightroom workout – lift 4 days a week – as hard as we can

Monring workout – squats/legs

Team film session – watch Friday night’s game – we are a two platoon team – separate by O/D

Scouting Report intro to the players

Heavy insertion day

All special teams – 25/30 minutes of special teams every day

Light conditioning if we need it – we don’t condition much because we practice very fast

250-340 – Weight Room

350 Dynamic warm up

400 – 615 – Field

Tuesday: 2:50 – 6:15 pm

Dress: Full gear – for all players – even the injured ones

Weight room – power clean

Team Meetings – watch Monday’s practice on film

Ball security and tackling is big on Tuesdays

Heaviest contact day of the week

Special Teams – Kickoff Return, Punt Return, PAT/FG Block

Wednesday: 2:00 – 5:45 pm

Dress: Full gear

Weight room – upper body

Watch Tuesday film

Refine the game plan

Special Teams – Kickoff, Punt, PAT/FG

Special Teams situations – onsides, hands, etc.

3rd and 4th down situations – Offense/Defense

Thursday 700-750 am

Dress: Gym clothes

50 minute walk thru practice

Offense against air

Defense does a fit drill

Use a game like script – problem plays, gadget plays, 2 pt plays, etc.

After school with the Varsity only players

Weight room

Special Teams film

O/D has their final film session

Then go to the JV or frosh game, whichever team is home


Check attendance at school

Meet with the Athletic Director to go over game management

Laminate play sheets

Ensure equipment is ready

Confirm bus departure

Team mass in the Chapel

Team meal

Player testing (on the game plan/scouting report)

Final preparations

Game time


Chris Fore has coached high school football in Southern California for 16 years.  Fore has his Masters degree in Athletic Administration, is a Certified Athletic Administrator and is on the California Coaches Association Board of Representatives.  He is a speaker with the Glazier Clinics, and a Coaches Choice author.  Coach Fore runs Eight Laces Consulting where he specializes in helping coaches nationwide in their job search process.  Fore also teaches in the Masters of Physical Education program at Azusa Pacific University.