Originally Published: July 18, 2011
Author: Jeff Cziska
Since my first year of coaching in 1990, I have experienced many ups and downs along the way. *I’ve only coached 9-1/2 seasons over the past two decades. The other years away from coaching were mainly due to health related issues, but I did get the opportunity to play some college ball in 1994 and 1995. Despite not being on the field as much as I would have liked, I have scouted five seasons for some of the coaches I have befriended along the way. I’ve also done some consulting. Although football is a huge part of my life, I honestly believe that my own personal challenges have given me the perspective to see what I value most: Christ, family, and finally football. A day does not pass in which I am not working on something football related; all of the spare time has brought about some interesting ideas. I’ve been lucky enough to use these ideas myself or find someone willing to try them out.
In 2004 we implemented the Double Wing at Southeastern Regional Voc-Tech (South Easton, MA). It was a special year as the season was dedicated to Hawk football player Jason Farwell. Jason passed away in July after a lengthy battle with leukemia. He was our 12th player on the field. Head Coach Ned Scaduto did an amazing job that season as he was able to shelter a team in crisis all while running a new offensive system. We began the season a disappointing 0-4-1, but our players never quit, just as Jason never did. By the end of the season, we had accomplished something that no sports team in our school’s history had ever done. We were crowned the Division IV Eastern Massachusetts Super Bowl Champions. A year later we defended our title using the Wildcat in conjunction with our base Double Wing. Sophomore fullback A.J. Goucher was named Most Valuable Player. The Wildcat was working so well that during the game radio announcers rarely knew who had the ball. I cannot imagine what it must have been like for our opponent. Our opening drive chewed up all but :51 of the first quarter. Our opponent ran just five plays in the first half.
The Spinner came about after running Hugh Wyatt’s Wildcat in 2005 and coming across the Spin the Cat page. I would highly recommend this page to any coach as there are some hidden gems there. The next season was a time of dramatic change for us. Our Offensive Coordinator John Sawyer stepped down to work on his Master’s Degree, and the offensive reins were handed to me. I was confronted with the daunting task of trying to maintain the success we had enjoyed over the past two seasons, while dealing with the graduation of 6 of 7 starters on the offensive line and both wingbacks (one that was named the Division IV Player of the Year). We stormed out of the gates that season and lost on the last play of the game. The next week we lost 42-28 to Nantucket, after holding a 28-14 lead going into the 4th quarter. To make matters worse, our starting center was speared while long-snapping (a cheap shot), and our backup center left the game with a concussion. To make matters worse, a starting guard quit the team after the game.
We were a team on the ropes. With nothing left to lose, I decided to put in the Spinner that week. We showed it to our players on Monday, practiced it all week, and crossed our fingers on Saturday. It was time to put theory into practice. It ended up working better than we could have imagined as we rolled to a 34-0 victory. Despite losing more players to injury, we won the next two weeks by scores of 54-12 and 55-0. The season was filled with ups and downs, more line-up changes than you can imagine, but we somehow put together a 5-6 record. We even outscored both State Championship teams. The next year we finished with a respectable yet disappointing 8-3 season. Two months later I was injured in a car accident and I have been unable to coach since.
Well my fellow coaches, I may have just shared a lot more background information than needed, some of which will undoubtedly be left on the cutting room floor, but I have been known to talk for hours on end about football. If someone mentions football in our presence, my wife will usually roll her eyes and disappear soon thereafter. Now let me explain a bit about the Spinner.
Aligning in the Spinner from a base Double Wing set will literally take a few seconds. The Fullback will simply take a half-step to his right and the QB will align adjacent to the Fullback. Both backs will split the center evenly and align as close together as possible. The rest of the offense keeps their normal alignment.
Teaching the Snap
The snap is as easy to learn as the alignment. The center just needs to remember to keep it soft, low, slow, and down the middle. When we first put in the Wildcat we LITERALLY rolled the ball backwards. About an hour before the league championship game the referees came into the coaches’ office and told us it was illegal. The opposing coach had called the referee’s association and asked them whether or not the snap was a violation of rulebook. He referred to the rule that ended the use of the fumblerooski. The rule states that “a team A player may not advance a planned loose ball in the vicinity of the snapper.” It was open to interpretation by the officials and it was interpreted as illegal.
The ball carrier is taking the ball so the center does not need to snap it in either direction. How the center handles the ball is up to the center. We want him to be as comfortable possible. Our centers ended up grasping the ball like they would with our base Double Wing.
Plays to Run
Pretty much anything that you can run out of the Double Wing, you can also run out of the Spinner. Still, like the base Double Wing it is best to keep it simple. The Spinner works best with motion in one direction, with the same CTXX action at all times. It is advantageous to do so for three reasons:
- The backfield gets continuous reps with the same action.
- The defense really does get lulled to sleep.
- We usually have our QB on the left and we want him doing the majority of the handing off and passing.
A Base Spinner Package Consists of the Following Plays:
Counter Criss-Cross Left
Belly Right (some call it Down or G)
The Spinner, more so than the base Double Wing, can be tinkered with to fit your personnel. If you have two stud Fullbacks, then why not have them in the backfield together? Although I do not throw the ball much, I have gone with two Quarterbacks. It can give the defense fits. I like to mirror the routes and have both Quarterbacks go through their throwing motions. It is confusing for the defense and the spectators.
The Spinner has proven to be a lifesaver to me. It has become a nice addition to the base Double Wing. Some coaches have used it exclusively. I would not hesitate to run it as my base offense. In fact, along with my Varsity duties I had the pleasure of using this offense with the Junior Varsity team. In order to maximize playing time I alternated between the offenses by series, using one backfield for one offense and one for the other. It is fun, effective, and easy to implement; a nightmare for the opposition to defend and prepare for; and enjoyable to watch for both fans and coaches on the sideline. Why not take it for a spin?
Thank you for taking the time to read about the Spinner. Special thanks to Adam Wesoloski for giving me the opportunity to share a bit about the Spinner.