Tom Haley of the Rutland Herald graciously offered permission to reprint his March 30th article here:
East Stroudburg University football will conjure up memories for some Mount Anthony Union High school football fans. It was at the Pennsylvania school that MAU graduate Dennis Mailhot made a big splash, leading the team in receptions three straight years, 1988-1990.
It was also where St. Johnsbury Academy head football coach Rich Alercio began his love affair with offensive line play.
Alercio arrived at East Stroudsburg just after Mailhot left. While on the Warriors staff he soaked up the teachings on line play from fellow coach Jim Pry.
Pry had caught his love for offensive line play from Jim McNally. If you look up offensive line play, Jim McNally’s picture should appear there.
“Jim McNally is the offensive line guru. He is the offensive line coach’s coach,” Alercio said.
McNally went to coach at Marshall just after the 1970 plane crash that took the lives of the entire Marshall football team. It was there that Pry became exposed to McNally’s instruction.
Alercio and Pry drove from East Stroudsburg to Cincinnati to spend some time with McNally, soaking up all they could about the intricacies of coaching offensive linemen.
McNally had a lengthy coaching career in the NFL that included stints as the offensive line coach with the Bengals, Panthers, Giants and Bills.
There is a misconception about offensive line play, Alercio said. Many people see it simply as a big guys hammering on one another. It gets lost in the beauty and grace of the wide open game that has evolved featuring quarterbacks and receivers.
“Line play is probably the most technical aspect of football,” Alercio said.
Alercio has written scores of articles on offensive line play for various publications. He has also authored a “20-something-page” manual on the subject.
His latest offering will be three one-day clinics on offensive line play to be available this summer at three locations in Vermont. They will be in conjunction with Chris Redding’s Passing Academy. Those sessions will be on July 11 in Rutland, July 18 in Burlington and July 25 in St. Johnsbury.
The Passing Academy will focus on the physical and mental skills of quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends, linebackers and defensive backs with position specific coaching.
Alercio approached Redding about adding a lineman component because he felt instruction for the linemen was needed more than ever after they were the ones left out of high school football in 2020 with Vermont’s 7-on-7 touch football format.
“The timing is perfect. They have gone a year without line play,” Alercio said.
“Selfishly, I think the O-line clinic is really needed now. Linemen are a dying breed. There were so many schools that had linemen opt out (last fall.) I am hoping they see the O-line clinic as their welcomed return.”
There is a lot going on with football this summer in the state. The first annual 7-on-7 passing tournament will be held at Burr and Burton Academy in Manchester on July 10. The Vermont All-Star Football Camp returns July 12-16 in Rutland with another in the Burlington area.
Redding has taken over the football camp from Chadde Wolf and Alercio sees Redding as someone who possesses the marketing savvy to breathe new life into the camps.
“He is in tune with all the things that we need to do,” Alercio said.
There are also high hopes that the Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl, the annual high school senior all-star game against New Hampshire, will return on Aug. 7 to Castleton University’s Dave Wolk Stadium. The game was a not held in 2020 for the first time since the inaugural game in 1954.
Alercio was scheduled to be the Vermont Shrine coach in 2020 and was asked if he wanted to assume the role in 2021.
“I didn’t feel the same attachment to it,” Alercio said.
“I felt we had a great group of kids last year.”
It also would have enabled him to close out his son Trey’s high school career together in Shrine camp.
“I did not want to take it from someone who had a great relationship with the players on the team and really wanted to do it,” he said.
Instead of preparing for the Shrine Bowl, Alercio will be getting ready to present his O-line clinics, spreading the gospel for the part of the game that has fascinated him since meeting Jim Pry in 1991.
2021 Alercio O-Line Clinic will be held at the Hun School near Princeton, NJ on Sunday May 2nd. Brochures and registration will be available at Olineskills.com, on Facebook, and via email.
Coach Rich Alercio is available to discuss coaching philosophy, X’s & O’s, or teach his O-Line “techniques in the trenches.” Contact Coach at firstname.lastname@example.org and share http://www.olineskills.com with your colleagues and friends. Thanks for supporting this blog and joining our conversations, and as always, thanks for your time!