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    All Saints Academy School News


  

All Saints Introduces New Head Football Coach 

All Saints' Academy recently introduced its new head football coach, and no one will question his toughness. Gary Tufford is nicknamed "Tuff" by coaches and peers. He played professional football as a wide receiver in the Canadian Football League (1975-78) for the Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats during the league's heyday, with players like 1972 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Rodgers and USC tailback Anthony Davis. During his CFL career, Tufford was recognized as the fastest player in the league. He spent several years in the coaching ranks, including the Arena League, as well as holding different scouting, management and consulting positions with the CFL, AFL, Miami Dolphins and several minor sports leagues. Most recently he served as the commissioner of the Southern Indoor Football League in 2011. Tufford's high school experience encompassed assistant coaching positions with four different programs, including Monsignor Donovan High School in Toms River, N.J. in 2008-09. "He's a quality person. I think he's a motivator and a tremendous asset for young people," said Steve Canlon, All Saints' athletic director. But his tough side surfaced during his childhood. Tufford was diagnosed with a crippling leg disease at a young age and became an Easter Seals poster child posing with several sports celebrities. "It was an extremely rare disease on my right leg," said Tufford, who was fitted with a large brace that expanded halfway up his body and a boot on his left leg to compensate the length differential. "I was 6-year-old kid carrying around 25 pounds of steel with the leather straps going up. They said they were going to have to rebuild my leg through my teens and that I was going to have a limp." But just like the movie "Forrest Gump," the day came when the brace was removed and a speedster arose. "They took the brace off, and that was it. I didn't even care. All I knew was that I could walk, and I started to run. I just started getting faster chasing my brother around, who was four years older. I was like a puppy chasing him," said Tufford, who began playing sports at age 10. "When I had the brace, my parents didn't treat my any different. My brother would still beat me up. The school would call my parents and say he broke the brace again. By the time I was done with it, the screws were gone. I was a tough kid." He went on to play high school football in Halifax, Nova Scotia, before entering the CFL farm system, where he ran a 4.45 40-yard dash. "I was easily the fastest kid in high school," Tufford said. "I wanted to get to the pros early, that was my dream. "People would ask me when I was a kid what I was going to do and I would say, ‘Be a pro football player.' And they would say, ‘No really, what are you really going to do?'?" ASA is coming off a winless 2011 season, but Tufford feels he can implement some arena league road maps to change its course. "I have unique advantage, playing in the arena leagues where we had limited rosters and guys (that) had to play both ways. Kids (here) are going to have to learn two position skills. In arena football you have 25 guys so you have to make it work." Tufford added that success in the prep ranks comes down to execution. He plans on running a basic pro-set offense backed by a defense that forces mistakes. Tufford said his early disability has fueled his successes throughout life. "It made me the person I am. I'm a complete believer in that. Adversity builds character. The more things you have to go through, and get challenged, the better you will be at the end of it. Because you just learn how to deal," Tufford said. "I was blessed." "I want to win with basics, blocking, tackling, score some points and just play basic football. In high school I learned that's how you win." ( The Ledger 2012)