Author: Adam Wesoloski
Originally Published: July 29, 2004

U.P. Power!

Coach Ken Hofer has been practicing the single wing for over 40 years. His Menominee Maroons are a perennial powerhouse in Michigan’s Upper Penninsula. In 1998, the Maroons captured Hofer’s first state championship and won two others in 2006 and 2007.

Menominee, MI is city of about 8,500 people located on the Wisconsin and Michigan border. On the Wisconsin side of the border, Marinette resides. High school football is taken very seriously in the Twin Cities. They have been squaring off since 1894.

Hofer is a member of the Michigan High School Coaching Association Hall of Fame as well as Michigan’s Upper Peninsula Sports Hall of Fame.

He has been a mentor to me in regards to helping me understand the fundamentals of the single wing offense. Hofer’s version of the single wing is a balanced line with multiple backfield alignments.

I want to thank Coach Hofer for his time and contribution to this interview that we originally conducted in 2004.

Direct Snap: Where do you coach currently?
Ken Hofer: Menominee H.S, Menominee, MI

DS: How long have you been coaching football?
KH: Too long — since 1964 with a three year break.

DS: Where else have you coached?
KH: Stephenson H.S, Stephenson, MI

DS: Record there?
KH: 6-9-2

DS: Your record at Menominee?
KH: Secret!

DS Note: In his career, Coach Hofer has accumulated 322 victories which is 6th all-time in the state of Michigan.

DS: Who are/were your mentors?
KH: Ken Kueffel, John Aldrich

DS: Could you tell us about your trip to Wabash College back in the 60’s and your visit with Dr. Keuffel.
KH: He is a special human being who is always ready to help any coach. He spent two days taking the time to teach me the offense. I’m very grateful to him.

DS: Have you always coached the single wing?
KH: No

DS: Before running the single wing, what offense did you run?
KH: Pro-Set, I will say no more.

DS: When did you switch to the single wing?
KH: 1965

DS: Why do you run the single wing?
KH: Diversified offense that gives opposing coaches headaches.

DS: Do you prefer the power or the deception of the single wing?
KH: Yes but no. Power serves it’s purpose but the spin series adds deception.

DS: What kind of stuff do you like to run — power, spinner, buck lateral?
KH: We run all of it except the buck lateral.

DS: What alignment(s) do you utilize in your single wing?
KH: Everything possible.

DS: You are one of the few single wing coaches who employs a balanced line. You didn’t start this way. Could you give us an inside look as to why you went in this direction.
KH: It was much easier to read defenses from the balanced line and to have the guards pull on our power play.KH-SW-Formation

DS: What are your bread and butter plays?

KH: Our “blast” and “short option”.

DS Note: Menominee speak…Power = 2 pulling guards for sweep; Blast = 1 pulling guard for power off-tackle; short option is the traditional sweep run/pass option play.

KH-48-BlastDS: Any plays in your playbook that are very effective that might be new to us?
KH: No, I too copy.

DS: What positions and skills do you think are the most difficult to teach and coach in the single wing?
KH: Center and the spinning fullback.

DS: Any advice for coaching the centers in this offense.
KH: Go into it with and open mind and patience. You’ll enjoy it because there is so much variation.

DS: Do you have any specific areas where your teams have the most difficult executing?
KH: The weakside attack most difficult without a good wingback.

DS: Is it difficult to keep running the single wing in today’s football?
KH: No, it’s more interesting.

DS: If you could change your single wing to another single wing, which/whose would you run?
KH: None, except I would love to run the buck lateral with precision.

DS: When you attend football clinics, what do you try to get out of it from a single wing perspective?
KH: There are always new ideas.

DS: Advice for beginning single wing coaches?
KH: Keep it very basic until you are comfortable with change.

DS: Do you try to keep the single wing a secret?
KH: As much as possible.

DS: Did you attending this year’s Single Wing Symposium?
KH: Yes I did.

DS: Do you have a favorite single wing player or team? Please tell us about him or the team.
KH: Not really.

DS: Favorite coaching moment?
KH: Maroons 35 Kingsford 29 — OT (1997)

DS: Your team won the state championship in 1998. Why is the Kingsford game your favorite moment? Does this have anything to do with beating your son Chris, who is the head coach at Kingsford?
KH: It was a very exciting game in comparison to our win at the dome.

DS: Could you explain the phenomenon known as the M&M Game.

DS: How do you feel about the M&M Game. You’ve coached in a bunch, what does the game mean to you?
KH: Very exciting, tough on the nerves, good for the communities. It’s fantastic series, constant homecoming.

DS: Menominee is in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. I think there is a certain pride and/or character when we say U.P. football. To me it means underdog. But it also means tough football and kids. During the playoffs, the other schools all rally behind each other. Could you explain U.P. football.
KH: You did all that for me, I couldn’t have said it better.

DS: How do you prepare for Lower MI opponents in the playoffs, and how much do you enjoy beating them.
KH: Prepare the same way as always but it’s more exciting because of all the interest.

DS: Could you also explain the scheduling challenges you face each year.
KH: The U.P. is a Class C area and therefore it makes it very difficult to schedule, however we have bus and will travel.

DS: Do you ever feel any pressure from the community, even with your success, that maybe the single wing has seen better days? Has your success the last 4 years squelched any of these rumblings.
KH: I’ve been very fortunate as the young men on the Maroon teams have always given their best effort and this has helped the program stay strong.

DS: What football coach(es) do you admire? Why? Ideas, admire, or just like to watch?
KH: Ones who will schedule the Maroons for a new experience for their players.

DS: Do you enjoy watching the NFL? Why?
KH: Yes. I enjoy watching talented players and coaches.

DS: Reading List?
KH: Don’t really have one, but I enjoy all of the informative articles on football.

DS: How can you be reached?
KH: (906) 863-3393

DS: Anything you would want to see on Direct Snap?
KH: Go Maroons!!!

DS: Anything else you would like to add?
KH: Not really, but to wish you the best of luck on this venture. I know you’ll be successful because of who you are — a nice, articulate, bright young man — but mostly because you’re a MAROON.

Adam Wesoloski