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Essex Chargers Youth Football

Tom Downs, Offensive Coach

Tom Downs
Essex Chargers 7/8 Offensive Coach


Let’s get my coaching experience out of the way. I have been coaching 7th/8th grade youth football for the Essex Chargers for 20 years now.  It has been incredibly rewarding and challenging, filled with incredible highs and lows. We have been a home for troubled kids where the football field is there one peace of mind during an otherwise troubling day. We have watched kids become men. We have been through the pain of former players passing away much too early. It can be a weird age group to coach. However, I absolutely love coaching at this level because the kids can still be influenced in a positive way. I believe more can occur at this age level than others to get a kid upright and moving in a positive direction for years to come.

My experience comes from running multiple offenses, attending years of football clinics around New England, studying football gurus such as Tony Franklin, Darin Slack and Bruce Cobleigh. With every new system I am introduced to, I basically geek out and go after learning everything I can. I have put countless hours into building offensive systems, and then tearing it down the next year to build it again in a different way. I am never quite satisfied and I constantly adjust.

I discovered from this passion to constantly tweak and improve an offense that I was constantly striving to make the offense as fun for me as possible to teach and implement.  It was selfish essentially. However, I quickly discovered that the kids loved it, but it was not only them. The parents loved it as well. If you have the kids loving what they are learning and the parents love seeing their kids learn, you have already won whether your team wins all of its games or loses all of its games.

Now let’s talk about winning and losing. I have a philosophy that my job is to get a large number of kids loving the game of football and also make them as cerebral about the game as is possible. We are a feeder program to our high school, and while we do not run all the same things as our high school, our kids move up with a deeper understanding and a deeper passion for the game.  

We have won championships, and we have had poor seasons. While I would love to win a championship every year, that just does not happen when you have a new crop of kids every year.  Some years you get a bunch of good athletes and then other years you get a bunch of kids that are good at playing Madden Football on their Play Stations. In our region, we do not have the luxury of picking up kids from all over. All of our kids come from one small town. I am not complaining mind you. Our entire league faces the same challenges. I would love to say that our offensive system can win us championships no matter what talent we have. That’s just not true. You will almost always need better athletes than the other team to win consistently, no matter what our offensive system might be. What I can say is our approach to offense will be fun for our coaches, kids, and parents. When all of those groups are having fun, then you get the most out of the team. And when that happens, we may win a couple of games that we probably shouldn’t have despite what talent we may have because everyone is positive and believes in what they are doing.

I absolutely love coaching your kids and I hope that becomes obvious as the year progresses. I hope everyone enjoys the ride, win or lose.


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Essex Youth Football League

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Essex Junction, Vermont 05453

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