Humboldt Chainsaw Massacre


By Danny Dunn


‘The Humboldt Chainsaw Massacre’ is what new Humboldt State football defensive coordinator, Barry Sacks, calls the team’s new defensive system.

“There are 11 links on the chain, and you have to earn each link,” Sacks said. “ You have to play for one another and not for the individual.”

Sacks talked about how the defense has to pursue the ball so hard and so fast that it feels like there are 12 guys on the field, when there are actually only 11.

Spring practices are officially under way at HSU, which means it is time to train and evaluate players. It is also time for coaches to get settled into their new roles on the team.

Coach Sacks said the first week of practice was fun getting to know the players and work with head coach Rob Smith. Sacks said coach Smith is incredibly knowledgable, and it takes a special person to coach at this level, with the daily grind of football.

Sacks has been coaching for over 30 years, for several different programs, including Portland State, Boise State, Adams State, University of Nevada, and University of New Mexico. Sacks spent the 2016 season at San Jose State University as the defensive line coach.

Sacks has known about the HSU football program since his days as a coach at Portland State in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Sacks chose to come to Humboldt State mainly do the recent run of success, and winning culture that head coach Rob Smith has installed at HSU.

Humboldt State head football coach Rob Smith spoke about new defensive coordinator Barry Sacks now that week one of spring practices are in the books.

“I love the energy,” Smith said. “I do not know where Coach Sacks gets it…but again he has great energy and it is fun to see.”

After finding out about the HSU opening, Sacks called Coach Smith to inquire about the position. The two were both born in Washington, they are the same age, but they had never met until the American Football Coaches Convention in Nashville, Tennessee in January. From there Coach Smith invited Sacks to HSU for a formal interview and to take a look at the campus.

Sacks knew immediately that Humboldt State was a huge part of the community in Arcata. HSU really does not have to compete with other colleges in the area for football, so HSU gets a lot of local fans that did not necessarily go to the school, but enjoy rooting for this team.

“We are the show in town,” Sacks said. “We are in a community that is starved for this type of venue.”


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