Originally Published: March 1, 2009
Author: Lew Johnston
After 22 years as the Head Football Coach at Western Branch High School here in Chesapeake, VA, I retired after the 2006 season. We ran the Delaware Wing T offense for the last 19 years of my career and had great success with it. I even created a spread shotgun version of the Wing T that proved to be highly successful for us the last 6 years that I coached Varsity.
I took the 2007 season off but found myself missing working with the kids. The rest of the headaches were not something I missed but the daily interaction with the players made me hungry to get back into coaching. A friend of mine, who was also a former coach, is the Principal at our local middle school. He offered me the opportunity to get back into coaching at that level. My pastor calls it: “Football Lite… less filling!” I get all the fun of working with teenagers with a minimum of the stress and aggravation that comes with coaching at the high school level.
Upon being hired, I decided that this was going to be “fun” so we were going to run a “fun” offense. After consulting several Single Wing coaches and web sites (especially this one, Direct Snap), I came up with a concept where I combined the plays and blocking rules of Delaware Wing T football with the principles of the Single Wing attack. Thus, the moniker Spinner S(ingle)’ Wing T offense.
I would like to share some of the basics that we used and if you are interested, contact me via email and we can talk more.
We ran an unbalanced line (with the unbalanced to the right only) with a wide receiver to that side. Our splits were 6 inches, which meant basically foot to foot! The SE’s width was anywhere from 5 yards from the “Power Tackle” to 15 yards wide. Our TE aligned to the weak side and was an eligible receiver.
Our QB, or Tailback, aligned at 4 yards from the football. I did this because hand offs in the Delaware Wing T system occur at 4 yards. The Fullback, or Blocking Back, lined up at 3 yards from the ball and behind the Strong Guard, who is the first man to the right of the Center. Our Wingback aligned outside the Power Tackle (widest lineman to the unbalanced, right, side) and was 1 yard wide and 1 yard back from the PT. The Halfback aligned just outside the TE to our left flank and was also 1 X 1 yard in his alignment.
The base offense consists of 4 running plays and 1 play action pass. We had 3 other running plays that we used a lot and we liked to throw “quick fire” (catch, set and throw!) passes. Those 7 running plays and 2 passes earned us a record of 7 and 0. We averaged 38 points a game with only 8-minute quarters. I should mention that we also ran every play without a huddle. Something else I decided when I began to evaluate things and make plans was that we needed to maximize the time to get off as many snaps as possible. As a high school coach, I was used to 12-minute quarters. With only 8 minutes, I knew we needed to speed things up — thus the decision to go no-huddle. We signaled in every play from the sideline. The QB would get the signal, make the call and snap the ball in under 10 seconds. Our racehorse philosophy put us at a real advantage over our opponents’ defenses.
To create deception and confusion, I decided on starting every play with the HB in motion. The QB would receive the snap and begin his spin as soon as he got the ball. The whole offense centered on the Jet Sweep to the HB. If teams weren’t prepared to stop our Jet Sweep, we would run it right down the field. The advantage over the “under center” Jet Sweep is that our FB is always off set; so it’s not a “give-away” when teams lining up their QB under center have to shift him over to get him out in front of the play. The HB gets the ball at top speed and has the Fullback and Strong Guard escorting him around the corner. We also cracked with the SE and arch released the Wing to get him on the widest defender. In essence, we had a Power Sweep running at Jet Sweep speed! Three blockers out in front of the ball carrier with a crack back block by the SE to wall off the Strong Safety or Outside LB! It was a devastating play.
Once we got defenses over-reacting to the Jet Sweep, the next play that we ran off of it was either: the Wingback Reverse back outside to the left flank or the Wingback Counter Trey hitting off-tackle behind the TE to the left side. Of course, our play action pass off of the Jet Sweep was highly effective too. We were blessed with an outstanding QB who, as a 14-year old, could accurately throw the ball some 35 yards. On the Jet Pass, everything looks just like the Jet Sweep only the QB keeps the ball and sets behind the Strong Tackle. The SE starts his crack path and then breaks it deep down the middle trying to get behind the Free Safety. The Wingback arch releases for the Corner and continues up the sideline in a “wheel” route. The QB sets and checks “center field” first and throws to the SE if he is behind the F/S. If not, he looks to the outside and hits the Wing going up the sideline. We had 5 TD passes in 7 games off of this one pass play!
Perhaps the most effective play in the whole attack involves the QB/TB faking to both Halfback and Wingback as they run their sweep paths. The QB does a full 360-degree spin and then follows the Fullback into the line on the strong side. The opponents’ Linebackers are so used to following our HB and WB running their flank runs that they forget about the QB possibly keeping the ball after faking to both backs! It is a simple off-tackle Power or Iso play, depending on the defensive front, and opens up huge holes.
The most deceptive play for the kids to execute was our Wedge play. This was a direct snap to the Fullback with the QB faking like he has received the snap and spinning just like we are running Jet Sweep. Both the HB and WB run their sweep paths and fake the run to the opposite side. The fullback, having taken the direct snap, gets lost in the middle of the line while everybody is mesmerized by the spinning action of the QB and the flank attacks by our other backs. The line just “snow plows” and the Fullback looks for a crack and blows through it.
“Quick Fire” Passes
The “quick fire” passes were 3-man patterns but the SE was the primary target. We used the same series at the Varsity with great success, so I knew with the arm strength that our QB possessed that we could throw these passes against 7th and 8th grade defensive backs. The SE to the right and the HB to the left ran the same pattern. We kept the TE in to block since it was the “short” side. We also sent the FB to that short side to give us an extra blocker to that weak side. All linemen took a fire step to their right and protected the play side gap. The Wing ran a “complimentary” pattern to whatever the called pattern was for the SE to his side. We ran the SE on a Hitch (4 steps and stop); quick sideline cut; slant and fade. The fade was particularly effective as a red zone play inside the 20-yard line.
The only other play that we ran with any frequency was our version of the Delaware Wing T’s famous 2 hand-off Counter Criss-Cross play. It was the only play where the HB did not take a full motion before the snap. The QB takes the snap and heads directly at the Wingback who has drop stepped and is now heading towards the QB. The Wing is inside the QB and receives the first hand-off behind the Strong Tackle (second man to the right of the Center). The Wing proceeds across the formation and hands the ball to the HB who is coming behind him. The QB and the FB lead the HB around the right flank with the SE running off the Corner. We ran the play 12 times in 7 games and only fumbled the second hand off once! The play can be executed safely if you work on it. For as many times as it broke for big yardage, it was worth the risk.
There you have the Spinning S’Wing T offensive package. I am confident that with a few adaptations it can be used on the youth level as well as the high school level. I wanted to make you aware that Championship Productions will be releasing a new set of DVDs in their February Coaches Video Catalog on this offense. Many coaches have contacted me with questions about running the “spinner.” These DVDs cover everything that a coach would want to know about installing the offense. If you would like to discuss it with me, feel free to email me. I will be glad to answer any questions you might have.
My thanks to Dale Weiner in Baton Rouge, LA, Mickey Thompson at Stone Bridge HS in Loudon County, VA and Dave Cisar in Nebraska for their help in “birthing” this offense. It’s great to belong to the Single Wing coaching fraternity now as well as my Delaware Wing T affiliation!