Danville alum experiences coaching indoor semi-pro football team

By Staff
Justin Schuver, Hartselle Enquirer
Tom Posey has been involved in coaching most of his life, but never like this.
Posey, a 1987 graduate of Danville High School, recently finished his first season as an assistant coach with the Huntington (W.Va.) Heroes of the American Indoor Football Association (AIFA).
"The head coach, Garry McPeek, and I have known each other since about 1994," said Posey, who currently lives in Maysville, Ky., where he teaches and coaches football at Mason County Middle School. "He told me about the team they were starting in Huntington and to keep it in mind if I ever wanted to give professional coaching a shot. I decided to take the opportunity."
Posey was originally asked to coach linebackers with the Heroes, but eventually picked up the duties of coaching special teams as well. He said that his weekly schedule usually involved making the 1.5-hour commute from Maysville to Huntington several times a week. The team would typically practice Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 7-9 p.m. and then games were once a week on either Fridays or Saturdays.
The schedule allowed Posey to continue his duties at school during the day while still working with the team on nights and weekends. It also permitted the players a chance to have a daytime job to supplement their relatively low salary (the league minimum was $250 a game), as well as a $50 bonus for the winning team. Most of the members of the Heroes' 20-man roster were players from nearby Division-I Marshall University and still living in town.
"That's not a lot of money so most of the players had other jobs as well," Posey said. "The players' attitude was great, though, because most of them wanted to succeed and move onto the next level. A lot of these players who improve get to go onto the af2 and Arena Football Leagues and we've even had a few AIFA alumni who have made it to the NFL."
The AIFA is a league that began play in 2005 under the name of the Atlantic Indoor Football League and with six teams. It has gone through two different ownership groups and several different teams since then, with the most recent 2007 season featuring 15 teams including the Montgomery Bears.
The league is similar to other indoor football leagues in that the games are played on a shorter field (the AIFA's field is just 50 yards long) and the scoring is typically much higher than a traditional football game. Eight players are used on both offense and defense; on offense teams use three receivers, three linemen, a quarterback and a running back and on defense the players are three linemen, two linebackers and three defensive backs.
Perhaps the most unique rule in the AIFA is the "single," which is one point awarded anytime a kickoff is sent through the uprights. The kicking team receives one point and the receiving team takes over on its 5-yard line.
"As the special teams coach, one of my biggest responsibilities was to help our kickers get those single points," Posey said. "Just the slightest mistake in footwork or timing could cost you a game.
"Coaching the linebackers was fun because I got a chance to get on the field with the guys and they seemed to like what I brought to the table. They said I had some drills and reads they really liked that they hadn't ever experienced before. And considering most of them were coming from a Division-I team with a Division-I coaching staff, I took their comments as quite a compliment."
The Heroes had a successful season in 2007, finishing with a 10-4 record and third in the AIFA's Northern Division. Huntington advanced to the playoffs, where it lost 76-43 to Canton, a team that defeated the Heroes twice during the regular season as well.
But the end of the Heroes season didn't mean the end of Posey's coaching. He was nominated to join the Northern Division All-Star team's coaching staff in the league All-Star game in Florence, S.C. on June 23.
Posey said he enjoyed his first foray into professional coaching and plans to return to the Heroes coaching staff in 2008. It will be Huntington's first season under a new coach as McPeek resigned at the end of this season.
"I'm hoping maybe I'll get a chance to move up, because I think the new coach is going to be our current defensive coordinator," Posey said. "It was a fun time and as far as I know I'll be back in Huntington next season."
For the past nine years Posey has worked with the DownUnder Bowl, an organization that gives American high school students the opportunity to travel to New Zealand and Australia and participate in exhibition games. This year, Priceville seniors Wes Long and Will Stevens are among those participating in the exhibition with Posey as coach.

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