Commentary

UA Game coaches get last chance to see their star seniors

Updated: December 13, 2007, 4:09 PM ET
By Christopher Lawlor | ESPN.com

Rich Hansen is looking forward to coaching his star player again.

Hansen, the coach of St. Peter's Prep in Jersey City, N.J., is one of 16 high school coaches selected for the inaugural Under Armour All-America High School Football Game. He'll team with athletic safety Will Hill for the Silver Team on Jan. 5 in at Disney's Wide World of Sports in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

"It'll give me a chance to work with Will for another week," Hansen said of Hill, who will sign a national letter-of-intent with Florida in February. "Plus, this is a great opportunity to meet coaches from different regions of the country and see how they do things."

Hill's final game with St. Peter's Prep ended in disappointment in a 42-14 loss to Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey), No. 12 in the ESPN HIGH Elite 25 high school football rankings, in the Non-Public Group 4 championship game. Hill was injured late in the first half, suffering a high ankle sprain, but will be ready for the Under Armour Game.

[+] EnlargeJim Hanifan
Peter Newcomb/WireImage.comJim Hanifan won Super Bowls as an assistant for the Rams and Redskins.
The 16 high school coaches, all who have players in the game, will coach under Ron Meyer of the Red Team and Jim Hanifan of the Silver Team.

Meyer and Hanifan are household names in NFL circles.

Red Team staff
Meyer coached 30 years in the NFL and college and was named AFC Coach of the Year. His NFL experience includes stints with the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts. In college, he guided UNLV to an 11-0 season 1974 and then took SMU to the Southwest Conference title in 1981, coaching future Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson.

Meyer's coordinators are Rex Norris (defensive) and Tom Rossley (offensive). Norris brings more than three decades of experience to the Under Armour Game. He gained game experience as an assistant at Oklahoma (1973-83), where he coached seven first-team All-Americans and went to eight bowl games. He also coached in the NFL with four teams.

Rossley is less than a year removed from coaching with the Green Bay Packers and quarterback Brett Favre (2000-06), but has coached on all levels. He was the head coach at SMU, where he was the Southwest Conference's co-coach of the year in 1992. He also coached with the Kansas City Chiefs and Chicago Bears.

The staff will be fortified by nine high school coaches, with player tie-ins on the squad. The coaches include: John McKissick, Summerville (S.C.); Billy Rolle, No. 1 Northwestern (Miami); Tim Murphy, Clovis (Calif.) East; Tim Carter of Auburn (Ala.); Ron Duncan, Bamberg (S.C.)-Ehrhardt; Jim Kunau of Orange (Calif.) Lutheran; Ray Reitz of Jeannette ( Pa.); Tim "Ice" Harris of No. 4 Booker T. Washington (Miami), David Howle of Bunn (N.C.) and Darnell Moore of Bayside (Virginia Beach, Va.).

Rolle and Harris, both from Miami, are familiar with each other. Both are coaching their teams (both ranked in the ESPN HIGH Elite 25) this weekend in the Florida state semifinals. If both teams win, they would play for state titles in Orlando on Dec. 15.

"There's a lot of great coaching going on in Miami," said Rolle, who is the only Dade County coach to lead two different schools to state titles.

Harris is thrilled to be a part of the game because "I get to spend more time with my son (Brandon Harris). This will be a tremendous experience for both of us. I know hanging around such accomplished coaches can only rub off."

Brandon Harris, No. 29-rated in the ESPN 150 player rankings, is the nation's third best defensive back. Harris, undecided on college, will choose between Ohio State, Miami (Fla.), Florida and LSU. His father said a "fifth school will be added."

Silver Team staff
Hanifan earned a reputation as an offensive line guru, garnering Super Bowl rings with the Washington Redskins and St. Louis Rams. He was the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons and St. Louis Cardinals. In college, he coached at Utah, California and San Diego State. Hanifan's signature players include Orlando Pace, Dan Fouts, Marshall Faulk, and Kurt Warner.

Hanifan's coordinators are Dave Levy (offensive) and George Dyer (defensive). Levy's dossier is dotted with greatness. He was an assistant under the legendary John McKay at Southern California from 1960-75, winning four national titles and participating eight Rose Bowls. He was the offensive line coach with the San Diego Chargers and coached the back with the Detroit Lions.

Dyer has more than 20 years NFL experience with four teams. Dyer earned two Super Rings with the Denver Broncos in the late '90s. He began his career at Arizona State and Michigan State.

The Silver Team's high school coaches are: Hal Wasson of Southlake (Texas) Carroll; Chris Yeager, Mountain Brook (Ala.); David Smith of Klein Oak (Spring, Texas); Todd Watson of Foley (Ala.); Hansen of St. Peter's Prep; Randy Huff of Ponderosa (Parker, Colo.) and Jess Simpson of Buford (Ga.).

Christopher Lawlor has covered high school sports for more than 20 years, most recently with USA TODAY, where he was the head preps writer responsible for national high school rankings in football, baseball and boys and girls basketball. He also for worked for Scholastic Coach magazine, where he ran the Gatorade national player of the year program for nine years. Lawlor, a New Jersey resident, grew up in Rochester, N.Y. and is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University.

Christopher Lawlor

High School Basketball
Christopher Lawlor has covered high school sports for more than 20 years, most recently with USA TODAY, where he was the head preps writer responsible for national high school rankings in football, baseball and boys and girls basketball. He also ran the Gatorade national player of the year program for nine years.