Marco Island Charter Middle School football coaches are on a high after spending time with former NFL championship coach Tony Dungy.
They met with Dungy last week in Tampa Bay for 2 1/2 hours.
Dungy led the Indianapolis Colts to a championship in 2007 and was a key factor in Tampa Bay winning its championship in 2002, although he had left the team the year before.
“It was great for all of us,” said Charter head coach Mike Vanderjagt who was a record-setting field goal kicker for Dungy while with the Colts.
“We learned a lot from Tony,” Vanderjagt said. “He’s a great man who didn’t have to do that and he took time out of his schedule to help the MICMS football program get headed in the right direction. Anyone who’s associated with the football team, the school, or the island for that matter, should be pretty excited about what took place.”
Assistant coaches Chris Burt, Scott Gibbs and Jim Young were also at the meeting.
Gibbs, who is the Eagles defensive coordinator, said, “He (Dungy) is a very classy individual. It was like talking to an old friend, we all felt very comfortable.”
The conversation centered on the Tampa 2 defense that Dungy created while head coach with the Buccaneers and took it successfully to the Colts.
“Tony is known as a defensive genius,” Gibbs said. “He went over key parts of the defense and it was very enlightening. We will be using his defense.”
Dungy talked about the importance of making sure that everyone knew their roles.
“His philosophy on defense was to keep it simple,” Gibbs said. “It’s a bend, but don’t break philosophy. Keep the defense simple and perfect it.”
Burt, the offensive line coach, said they discussed coaching techniques and philosophies.
What he took away from the meeting was, “keep everything simple. Practice a few different schemes and be proficient at those schemes. Get really good at a few and keep the repetitions up in practice. Just do what you do really well.”
Vanderjagt said he got insights on how to run a practice.
“My intention is to run the team as much like Tony did as I can,” he said.
Vanderjagt said there wasn’t much time spent on offensive strategies.
“I think I have a good mind for that, as well as Jim Young,” he said.
Burt said the players will learn that how they practice will be how they play in a game.
“I don’t know a whole lot about the competition, but we have some good talent and some good size. We will be well conditioned, disciplined and a tough team, I guarantee that,” he said.
Coaches will work with their players three times a week until summer break.
“We want to have implemented our system by then so that they will have something to think about over the summer,” Gibbs said.
The football season will begin in August with the first game against Southwest Florida Christian Academy at Winterberry Park on Sept. 1.
On Sept. 8 the Eagles travel to Evangelical Christian in Fort Myers. On Sept. 15 they again are on the road at Southwest Florida Christian Academy in Fort Myers. They are at home on Sept. 22, hosting Evangelical Christian, then host La Belle on Oct. 13. The Eagles will finish with a road trip to Belen Jesuit Academy, Miami. All games will be at 6 p.m.
Roger Raymond, athletic director, said the Eagles may add two more games.