For Bills coach Sean McDermott, the “One Buffalo” ethos extends beyond his own team and throughout the entire Western New York football community.
“We are all one,” McDermott said while walking off the practice field at the ADPRO Training Center on Thursday after greeting a group of local high school coaches who took a field trip to watch the Bills’ organized team activity session. “We are all part of something bigger and that’s this Buffalo community.”
More than 50 coaches from Section VI and the Monsignor Martin High School Athletic Association accepted McDermott’s invitation to observe an OTA practice from the sidelines. McDermott also opened one of last week’s sessions to local college coaches.
“This is great,” said Ken Stoldt, Section VI Football Federation chairman and the former coach at Akron High School. “We’ve had in the past Bills staffs that have offered coaching clinics and so forth for the high school coaches, but nothing like this where they get to see them actually doing their work.”
Coaches got the opportunity to see how NFL coaches structure a practice and get ideas for drills they can bring back to their own teams.
“You come out here and see that guys up here, they aren’t doing anything for more than 10 minutes before they’re shifting into something else,” Stoldt said. “There’s very little transition time, very little wasted time. I think you can take that philosophy and incorporate it into something else.”
Bishop Timon-St. Jude coach Joe Licata said the format of the Bills’ OTA sessions “is similar to what we are trying to get to.”
“It’s cool to get out here and see such a high level of football. They are installing all of their stuff now and seeing how they run a practice is very helpful,” Licata added.
Licata was also able to catch up with quarterback AJ McCarron whom he got to know while participating in the Cincinnati Bengals’ training camp in 2016, following his record-setting University at Buffalo career.
While McDermott initiated the process of bringing the coaches out to One Bills Drive, he credited Preston Teague, the team’s senior director of community relations and youth football; Meghan Hess, manager of community relations; and Derek Boyko, vice president of communications, with working out the details.
“Having an idea is one thing, but the legwork that goes into it is another thing altogether,” McDermott said.
At the end of the OTA session, McDermott walked over to thank them for attending, wish them luck in their coming seasons and pose for a photo.
“The turnout was phenomenal,” McDermott said. “That just shows the investment of our local high school coaches into their programs and into the young men and women that are around their respective programs.”
McDermott has never coached a high school team but strives to be involved with the sport at the grass-roots level.
“I myself love to go out and watch high school football on a Friday night if I get the opportunity,” McDermott said. “I’ve got young kids that maybe one day will play, and it’s fun. I think Friday night football is part of what America is all about.”