Originally Published: December 10, 2007
Author: Adam Wesoloski
The 2007 season was a bit different for me as a coach. Our Junior Pee Wee team was the youngest and least experienced team in our league. In a league where 10 year olds and lighter elevens are the core players of teams, our core players were 9 year olds. The difference was significant. However, this was one of the most pleasurable groups to coach. These players came to practice early and worked very hard all season improving dramatically over the course of the season.
With such a young group, mounting a steady offensive attack in our games was a struggle. Early games saw our guys dominate the first quarter and fade the remainder of the game. As the team improved we did manage to play a strong first half by the middle of the season. By season’s end, in our final game, we played our strongest game of the season showing great resilience in all phases competing to the final whistle.
Offensively we used a balanced line single wing. I wanted to use this formation this season so we could double team block at the point of attack and have the ability to use left and right single wing formations without having to flip the offensive line. We would simply have the backs flip. Due to personnel strengths certain players played two positions. All our backs other than the quarterback also played on the offensive line. So when we were in right formation, our tailback was right handed and our wingback was left handed. When we were in left formation, these two along with the fullback moved to the line and we used another left handed player at tailback and a right handed wingback who were on the line in right formation. The fullbacks each played RG as well. In a way it looked as if we using a shift when we lined up for a play.
Play selection was a very simple approach. We were a power running team. The roster didn’t posses the necessary talent to conduct any sort of a passing attack. We did throw a few plays a games in order to stretch the defense slightly and keep them honest. We focused on tailback off-tackle and fullback wedge runs. We suppled these plays with sweeps and counters.
This was the first season I didn’t use a whiteboard to send in our plays for our no-huddle offense. This time around I chose hand signals. Inspired by wrestling referees’ use of red and green sweatbands on their wrists I used them to indicate right and left formation. Red was right and green, left. So I would use my right hand to make a signal for the play for right formation and the same thing with my left hand if we wanted to use left formation.
Our off-tackle play was our bread and butter play. We double teamed with the tight end and tackle on the mandatory 4 technique defensive lineman, the quarterback kicked out the first bad guy and the fullback and back side guard lead through the hole. Depending on our opponent we either had the wingback block the cornerback or inside linebacker.
The tailback sweep was similar. This time the tight end and wingback double teamed the defensive end while the play side tackle and guard drive blocked. Again the back side guard pulled and lead the tailback along with the fullback. We had the quarterback target the cornerback hoping to block him toward the sideline opening a lane for the tailback to run through.
Our fullback wedge’s apex was our center. In our league there is a rule prohibiting a defensive player to line head up on the center so we used this bubble to focus our wedge attack. The first part of the season we had the tailback and wingback seal the ends, but half way through we switched to wingback counter misdirection by the tailback and wingback.
We experimented with the wingback counter. Originally I hoped to have the fullback lead through the hole along with the back side guard. That never panned out because he had to wait for the snap to clear and then not get tangled up with the quarterback and/or guard. So we decided to have the fullback sell the sweep to the strong side looking to block the defensive end. On the play side the tight end and tackle double teamed the 4 technique just like the off-tackle play while the quarterback was in charge of the kick out block on the defensive end while the back side guard lead through the hole. The guard and quarterback timing needed attention in practice because our pulling guards’ natural tendency was to block the defensive end on this play. The other thing we worked on a lot with our wingbacks was to run into the hole and not take it outside. They needed to trust there was a lane for them to run through.
By the middle of the season we needed to add a wrinkle or two. Defenses would recognize the position of our quarterback and wingback and shift their strength to that side. We felt that we should be able to counter with the wingback which we could do successfully maybe once or twice per game, especially early in the season. In fact we scored twice on wingback counters in the early portion of the schedule. However wingback counters are a little bit slower developing plays and the play wasn’t as consistent as we hoped. So we looked at ways to widen the field in order to get outside and have another way to attack the middle to compliment our fullback wedge play.
Our first play which we called Super Power had the line in an unbalanced alignment to the strong side and have our quarterback and guard flank the tight end. The wingback was put on the line of scrimmage split out about 5-7 yards from the tight end. The idea was to have the pulling guard already at the point of attack and maybe have a chance to get around the defense as well. In our last game we had a lot of success with this play running in both directions.
The second wrinkle was the quarterback wedge. We snapped to the quarterback who ran the wedge while the fullback, tailback and wingback all ran full spin action behind. It was a quicker wedge play and the faking action behind held the defensive ends at bay for a split second. We experienced some success with this play as well, sscoring once in the first game we ran it. In a season where we only scored 8 TDs in 6 games, any TD was treated like gold.
Our lone pass play was difficult to accomplish all season. Early on we tried to find the wingback on the deeper route but couldn’t manage to connect. The quarterback option was often covered so the tailback normally tried to run the ball. The original play design called for the back side tight end to stay in and pass block. We then discovered that the middle of the field was vacant so we started to include the back side tight end in the route and telling the tailback to pass to him. We completed two passes in one game to the tight end and one of those went for about 50 yards.
2007 was a challenging season, one where I learned valuable coaching lessons. I learned that I will need a misdirection/deception season added to our regular power series. I haven’t run another series besides power in the past and probably should have. I think this season we might have had additional success in our offense with such a series. I was also excited by the use of our Super Power play. With this alignment and some of the things we did with formation variations in 2006 inspire me to work on a single wing system using more formations.
I was very pleased with the things we did in teaching blocking techniques and how we conducted practices this season. My two assistant coaches were invaluable. It was such a positive experience to work with these two guys because thy bought into everything we did. We should be able to work together again next which would be a first for me. The team’s fundamentals were very solid and our kids learned how to play football. I am confident that if we didn’t run the single wing our season would have a been a disaster. As it was we were competitive all season although our record didn’t reflect. In fact we had 7 backfield players who scored points this season, 6 of them touchdowns.