Dominick Ciao Back
to the Sidelines
THE PHONE CALL CAME AT THE RIGHT
time from the right person – and Berkeley
Prep was the right place. Dominick Ciao was
going to coach again.
Ciao spent 17 seasons as the head coach
at Jesuit in Tampa before stepping down to
spend more time with his family following the
2002 season. He left a respected legacy as one
of the county’s most-liked coaches.
He stayed in the game as a part-time assistant to former Tampa Bay Buccaneers
defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin before
receiving a career-changing phone call
from a former player.
“He wanted me to coach his son,” said
Ciao and his staff have a strong core unit
Ciao, who is now entering his eighth season
at Berkeley Prep. “I guess it kind of touched
me. It came at the right time, and Berkeley
Prep was the right place. When you have a
former player calling you to coach his son;
well, I guess you know that you got at least
There’s no question Ciao has gotten many
more than just one “right.” At Jesuit, more
than 100 of his players received scholar-
ships. His current staff of assistants is en-
tirely comprised of his former players.
returning, including four-year starting
quarterback Brad Mayes.
“We lost one game with 0.2 seconds, one
in double overtime and one in the last three
seconds,” Ciao said. “We were in the hunt
last year, and come November we hope we’re
in the hunt again; make some plays and keep
months later, eight Colts had received college of-
fers. It’s only the beginning.
The early success is nothing new for the well-traveled Field. During his two-year tenure as head
coach at Miami Northwestern, he helped 44 players earn scholarships. Even some backups signed
scholarships to FBS programs.
On his first day at Marion, he began building
a similar next-level atmosphere. It started in the
field house, where the rearranged one of the bigger
rooms into an office where college recruiters could
watch video of prospects. He made sure transcripts
and highlight videos were organized and readily
available. And he worked the phones. He wasn’t
overly concerned with installing offensive and
defensive schemes. He wanted to make sure his
players were on the next-level path.
“I always like to give the credit to the kids who
Florida’s High School
have done their job to get enough highlights on field,”
said coach Field. “Now, it’s my job to come in and ex-
pose what they have done by showing it to people and
using my connections in the college world. I think
that’s very important. When it all boils down to it, our
main job is to get these young men in college.”
Field has college coaching experience at
Hampton University and the University of Miami
in addition to several high school stops. He says
the biggest thing he’s learned with starting at a
new program is to make sure the little things are
“The pieces are here to be a successful,” said Field
of his new program, which has never won a state
championship. “It’s the mentality that takes you over
the edge to win a championship. That’s what we’re try-
ing to establish right now, the mental discipline, the
mentality of playing football for four quarters.”
Teaching mental toughest isn’t easy, he said, but
constant, positive re-enforcement is his approach.
BY DAVID PURDUM
Eddie Brown Takes Over at
IT WAS AN EMOTIONAL MOMENT. EDDIE
Brown walked onto the practice field during his
first day as head coach at Miami Northwestern
High School. He was home, literally. Brown grew
up in a house that was eventually torn down to
build the high school field.
“To come home and represent my family, my
mom and dad, and to be able to represent Mi-
ami Northwestern, I’m still high off that accom-
plishment,” Brown said in a spring interview.
After a lengthy playing career that included a
stint with the Arizona Cardinals and an MVP award
in the Arena Football League, Brown went on to
coach high school and college in Kansas. He was
the first candidate to apply for the Miami Northwestern job. No one else really had a chance.
Brown prepared an 18-slide Power Point
presentation for the interview. By the time he
was finished explaining his vision of an academic support system, his family connections
to Miami University and lastly his football plans,
there weren’t any questions to be asked.
“We had about 50 applicants,” athletic director
Andre Williams told sfhighschoolsports.com, “and
as we dwindled down, Eddie stood out head and
shoulders above the rest of the candidates.”
Once hired, Brown arrived with a clear-cut plan
that was centered on structure and discipline.
“We let it be known that we will start practice
on time,” Brown said. “Before we did anything,
we went back to discipline and fundamentals.
Once we got the foundation installed, then we
started looking at the new offense and new
defense. But at the end of the day, our No. 1
priority is discipline and fundamentals.”
The fundamental approach is similar to conversations Brown has with his son, Antonio, a
wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers. “Papa”
Brown attends five or six Steelers games per
season and spends time with his son every July.
But it’s the Monday phone calls where the talk of
fundamentals comes to the forefront.
“I won’t have always watched his game, but
I’ll tape it and then watch it over and over,” said
coach Brown. “He’ll want me to evaluate what
I saw and what he needs to get better at. We’ll
look at everything: his steps, getting off the ball,
in and out of cuts, sight adjustments and hand
placement on the ball. It’s very detailed.”
Priorities at North Marion
STEPHEN FIELD ARRIVED FOR HIS FIRST
day as head football coach at North Marion High
School with two goals.
“Win championships, and get kids to college,”
In January, when Field was hired, North Marion had two players with scholarship offers. Four
Niceville’s Plan for Practice
JOHN HICKS IS EN TERING HIS 15TH SEASON
as a head coach, all at Niceville. He’s led the Eagles
to the playoffs in each of his first 14 seasons. Each
year was jumpstarted by the first practice.
“Having the first practice go well is all about the
preparation leading up to it,” said coach Hicks. “We
spend a lot of our summer program, especially
the last couple weeks, teaching how we want
the drills to be run, so when we do start that first
day our tempo can be good through the drills.”
Hicks says his staff and players will go over
a thorough, detail-oriented approach that is
taught on the chalkboard and on drill videos during summer meetings.
“If you don’t plan, with so many different kids
on different levels, you end up stopping drills
too many times during practice,” said Hicks. “By
planning and going through it before you even
get out there, it allows you to have some flow
and continuity in your practice.”
Hicks recalls leading his first practice as a
head coach with a chuckle.
“It was hectic,” he said. “I was in a new role
and it wasn’t quite as organized as it should have
been, wasn’t very smooth.”
Hicks said he learned how to better commu-
nicate his vision to his assistant coaches.
“My role as the head coach is to have a clear
vision of what we want our football team and
our football program to look like,” said Hicks.
“I think I’ve gotten a lot better at explaining to
my assistants what we want the final product to
look like and what my expectations are.”
“They have to walk past it every day,” Hicks
said. “They know exactly where it’s at.”