Phillips Big Blue Football '07

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Coach's Corner: Leon Modeste

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Wednesday, September, 26 By Alan Siegel
Staff writer

There are days Leon Modeste misses Brooklyn. But this native New Yorker, who has served as both the football and basketball coach at Phillips Academy for the past 21 years, is also fond of his current home.

"I like the pace of Andover," said Modeste, a former Springfield College football player. "I like New England. I can take a little snow now and then."

1. Have you talked to Zak DeOssie lately? Does it surprise you that he went from playing quarterback in high school to playing linebacker in the NFL?
"I haven't spoken to him since training camp, but I'm very, very proud. He had the size and frame. Many of these great NFL guys were QBs or (baseball) catchers in high school. They were guys who were in the middle of the action."

2. What's the biggest difference between living in the big city and living in the suburbs?
"It's a different pace. You miss it of course. You can just walk everywhere without a car."

3. What was your favorite spot to eat in Brooklyn?
"Nick and Joe's Pizzeria on Court Street."

4. Do you like coaching two sports in back-to-back seasons? And do you prefer football or basketball?
"It's fun to get to know kids in a different venue. ... I like whatever I'm coaching the best. One of the great things we can afford kids at PA, we not only allow them to play multiple sports, we encourage them to. It's nice to see. It would be silly to see a kid always playing basketball, or always playing football."

5. Who's the best player you've coached against?
"(In basketball) Rashad McCants up at New Hampton (now with the Minnesota Timberwolves). I'd say he was one of the finest players I've seen. (In a game) he took off from the right wing and might've dunked on two of my guys. PA kids are not stupid. They looked at him and saw something special."

6. Do you enjoy the atmosphere at Phillips?
"One of things that's wonderful about PA kids is that they're as driven academically as they are athletically. That's what kids should be. A kid sometimes is pegged as an athlete, musician, scholar or thespian. There's no reason a high school student can't be all of those. The renaissance person is not dead at PA. In fact, the renaissance person is thriving."

7. Is there one NFL player you enjoy watching these days?
"There are so many great athletes. ... I've always admired the work (Patriots tackle) Matt Light puts in. Tom Brady certainly knows it."

8. So far, what's it been like coaching (former Pinkerton QB) Bryan Farris?
"Bryan Farris is the consummate quarterback. He does everything well. ... I give him a lot of leeway with play calling."

9. Do you expect him to play in college?
"He's an excellent college prospect. One of these throwing teams had better come get him soon."

10. Do you have any advice for new coaches out there?
"I would say, somewhat tongue in cheek, that I played high school football in the (1970s). For most of us, if you're coaching like you're coach did in 1970, you're wrong. You have to keep changing."

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