Coaching Youth Fooball - Football Plays

YMCA Coach

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About YMCA Coach

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  • Birthday 10/09/1968

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    Male
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    Lakewood Ranch, FL
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    Coached at the local YMCA for a while now - primarily basketball, but flag football and soccer as well.
  1. Hi Rob. I'm coaching 5th/6th grade kids, and yeah - getting pretty competitive. Regarding my post ... have to say, I think I learned my lesson today. Or rather, I'm not sure just what I learned, and what line I'm crossing in my thinking. Allow me to explain. Playoff game, we were the top seed. To give you an idea, we started off 14-0. They missed a couple of good shots, but our defense was great. At 16-2, I got the "you'd better not continue this" bug in my head. I pulled top players for the quarter (remember, once a player checks into a quarter they can't come out except for ejection or due to injury), and put pretty much mostly my bottom players. Very quickly, the score started to change. By the time I could put my better players in, they'd come back entirely. Half was over at this point, they had the lead, and I was stuck with how much I could play kids now, due to the restrictions on playing time (everyone has to play 2 quarters). Our kids did well, but by the time the game was over we had lost, 40-39. Yes, I can point to the officiating (video doesn't lie!), I can reason out their lack of players (they only had 6, so their top players were on the floor the entire game), but the fact is that I took our foot off the gas and killed our momentum, and it cost us. After we brought it back, we just wilted. I was stunned, to be honest. I've not seen my team collapse like that in a very long time. It was disappointing, but it also did give me a chance to look at players in a new light, to see who stepped up and who stepped back, that sort of thing. (Story for another post.) Learned my lesson, though - don't let up at all until the game is totally and ridiculously out of reach. But then I have to ask - is that displaying good sportsmanship? A difficult quandary, no question. Thank you for your comments regarding AAU costs. I've looked at exactly that, as there is money in the area that is donated regularly for youth athletics. Honestly, I'm not sure I have the time to devote to it all. I wish I did, as there are a lot of things that are screaming in my mind right now. Figure I'd best wait a bit before I make any decisions, right?
  2. Just read over this thread for the first time. Had to chuckle - so similar to things I went through, wish I'd had it back then! Just a great read, thank you CRob for bringing all of these things into the forum.
  3. Charlie & Coach Rob - Thank you for the replies, I appreciate the input. I've considered exactly what you both suggest, getting the core players to a more competitive league like playing AAU. The biggest issue we have with that is that frankly put most of the parents (myself included) simply don't have the financial resources to pull that off. The costs associated around here have simply been too much for us all to handle. The hardest part for me to deal with is exactly what Charlie said - ego. I don't think it's my ego, because I really believe the issue I'm having is with the attitudes being portrayed to the players. But taking into account that we all tend to overlook our own flaws, I'll have to accept it as a possibility. I guess one of the reasons I don't think it's about my own ego is because we were completely blown out last year by a team that played really well. My kids simply weren't prepared for the competitive nature that they faced, and we lost by about 20. At the end, I didn't groan or complain about the other team or the other coach, even when one of their kids hit a 3 with about 10 seconds left. Way I figured, it's our job to stop them, plain and simple. Hmm, thinking on it, maybe that's part of it. I used that as fuel the rest of the season to encourage my team to be at their best at all times, and they responded very well. I just don't see that from other coaches. Maybe I just need to find a way, maybe get a sponsor for the team to go to AAU or something. It's pretty competitive down here, but I think that'd be good for these boys, to have to deal with the adversity. Regardless of it all, thanks again for the replies. Got me thinking!
  4. Hello, everyone. I wanted to get opinions from people about when you have a big lead at the end of a game. My kids play at a YMCA, so sometimes the level of play isn't extremely high, although the kids are still competitive. I coach strong values into my kids, including a strong emphasis on sportsmanship and teamwork. Lately I've been in a bit of a tough spot. Because my core group of kids has been playing together for few seasons now, they're very good together, and we tend to win more than we lose, and often by a pretty good margin. So far this season we're 4-1, with average margins of victory over 20. Our one loss (by 8) was when we only had 4 players at the start of the game and played the fourth with only 3 due to one fouling out. I've taken to running out the clock at the end of games because I don't want to run up the score, and that's led to some coaches being rather ticked off. This last game the coach refused to shake my hand, and his assistant spouted off something "showing up" their team. We ran off most of the last two minutes by just passing it around, not attempting a shot. I've talked to coaches here, and get a mixed bag, so I figured I'd come to the forum to ask. With this past weekend we were up by over 30, and to be blunt we could've scored 6 or 8 more without much difficulty. Two weeks previously, my guys were told to keep passing, and if there's an open 4-6 foot shot then take it. That coach wasn't too thrilled, although he kept his emotions in check and was respectful. He knew what I was doing (or not doing), so he got it. He did tell me afterward that he'd rather I just "let the players play, don't worry so much about the score." I can't just sit my best players, because the league rules state that once a player starts a quarter he must finish it - no subs (except for injuries or whatnot). I'm also stuck with the fact that every player has to be on the floor for at least half the game - besides, I don't want to cut the playing time of my best players because they did 'too well', created too large of a lead. I'm reaching a point where I'm disinclined to rein in my horses, so to speak. Many of these coaches are merely involved parents. That's what I am, but I put time and effort into it, I don't just show up, run a practice for an hour or sit on the bench for an hour and leave. I run extra practices, I coach players on their strengths and weaknesses, and do video study with them so they can see what they're doing and correct mistakes. I do this not because I'm getting paid, but because I love these kids, I enjoy doing it, and I love watching them all grow and develop as players and young people. I don't want to think this way, but I almost barked back at the coach this past weekend. I just barely kept myself from yelling, "well, if you don't like the outcome, then coach the team to get better!" I know half his team, having coached 5 of his 9 players in previous seasons. They have ability, but the team is completely in disarray. And I'm reaching that level of frustration where I'm ready to just say forget it, let my kids have at it in the final quarter, and let the chips fall where they may. Okay, so ... back to the original question - what is the opinion of those of you here? Play as usual, slow it down, or just run out the clock? Let me know what you all think. And thank you for your opinion.
  5. Alot of good thoughts in here! For my own part, I have a playbook that has slowly expanded over the years to a ridiculous number. My main key is ensuring I can teach the kids how to run the plays, and focusing on a small group of very specific plays that they master. My last season coaching (I took last season off), we ran 14 plays that were audibles, that I could call (or the QB could call) without the need for a huddle. To be totally clear, though, there were really only 8, as 6 of them were simply reversals of other plays (run right/left, qb fake right/left, etc). When I needed to run a play outside of those (like 2nd & 15, 3rd & 20, etc), I pulled out my playbook and showed them, or I told them the formation and then gave routes. I preferred to give them the play diagram, as that allowed my QB (often my son) to see the plays rather than having to imagine the routes. Much of this depends on your team. I had an 8-9 year old team that ran audibles with ease, and had only 1 false start all season, but my 10-12 year old team that season could only run 4 plays without the playbook, and we had at least 2 false starts each game. It all revolved around what players could do mentally and skillwise. Good luck with your team!
  6. A few years ago I was coaching a group of 5th & 6th graders, kids from my neighborhood I'd known most of their lives, and we had something like this happen. They hit the shot to take a 1 point lead with 6.1 seconds left. With two timeouts left, I called one. We knew the coach of the other team would go full-court, so I wrote up a double pass play. I'd have the inbounder pass it to a player cutting across the court by the foul line, who would then pass it to a teammate up the sideline. When we broke our 'huddle' I told the official that I'd be calling timeout as soon as it crossed half-court. The play worked, and we called timeout with 3.9 seconds left, which I thought was great. We ran a play but as soon as the player caught the ball he was fouled. It was their first foul of the last two minutes, so no penalty, just the ball under the hoop with 2.8 seconds. Thankfully the players executed properly to get off a good shot. It missed, but the shooter was fouled, hit the second of the two shots and we walked away with a tie. (No OT in that league until playoffs.) Point is - if you have two timeouts and players who'll execute you can set up one play to cross half-court and then another to win the game. Full court pressure doesn't help, but honestly when I'm in that situation as the coach on defense I only have 1 or 2 players playing full court; my other 3-4 are back, defending the basket. I only have those boys up there to slow down a speed dribble, I'm more concerned with the area that's in shooting range. There are my thoughts, hope you like them.
  7. Need to give us some ideas as to the makeup and rules of your league. Is it 5 on 5, 6 on 6 ..? Rushers come from 7 yards back? 10?
  8. Game is over now, and Wow - what a game! Started off rough, admittedly. To begin with, I didn't send my son out for the coin toss, I sent my #2 QB and my starting DB's. They come back, and I'm told we're going to receive. So I started to tell the official what direction I wanted to go, and he says that we won the toss, and that my #2 QB elected to take the ball first. Huh? In two seasons, I have never taken it first, but H wanted the ball so ... okay, we deal, no problem. The defense that the other team played shifted yet again. To repeat, we play 8 on 8, one blitz for each set of downs, five count delay before a rush. The first time we played these guys, they played a spread defense - 3 in the box, one each on the WR's, an MLB, two deep safeties. The second time they had 5 men in the box, with three safeties. This time was a sort of hybrid between the two, with their five line player spread out. The defense was solid. Reverses, fakes, they didn't often bite on them. They stayed at home for the most part, making us work for each first down. We converted two fourth downs before failing just about 10 yards shy of the endzone. I put that on my fault - somehow I lost track of the downs. They declined a penalty, I thought they had accepted it, and as a result we failed to convert, turnover on downs. First and second downs, solid defense, they gained maybe 2 yards. Third down, my left safety bit on a short route, leaving a man deep wide open. He caught it easily, touchdown. We blocked the pass attempt on the extra point, but we were down 6-0. I calmed my guys down, and set about going to work. After a bad first series, my son (#1 QB) calmed down, taking all the dumpoff passes that they left open. When we got to midfield, I started running the same play over and over, using the different options. On one play the QB handed it off to the WR coming on a reverse, then the WR handed it off to a RB for a double reverse. On another, the QB didn't hand off the ball. Then the QB did a quick cut upfield for a surprise 10 yard gain. 10 yards shy of the endzone we handed off to the WR who reversed it, but didn't hand it to the RB; instead he passed to the WR who had run an in and out to the back corner - touchdown. We failed on the extra point, but it was now tied 6-6. A good kickoff, good coverage, we had held them to bad field position. We did that most of the game, which was good. But they started, and slowly marched down the field. 20 yards out, we stopped them, turnover on downs. First play was a RB reverse, but they plugged that up pretty quick, maybe 1 yard. Second was a QB playaction run, but again, cut short - 3rd & 6 now. My #1 WR comes into the huddle - "coach, they're not even watching me anymore." I called for a playfake, a quick pass to him on a slant. They were going to come on the blitz, so I knew we had to get it out quick. Sure enough, they came on the blitz, and the QB got the pass off. Not perfect, but on target - and my WR just never looked. The ball just missed his head, was intercepted. The RB pulled the flag finally, but they had it First and Goal from the 1 yard line. Not good. First play, we ran our blitz, and the boys ran it great. The QB rolled to his right, but my defense shifted over, and he ended up fumbling it for a 10 yard loss. Second down, they ran a reverse. My boys sniffed it out, caught him for a deep loss. It was now 3rd & Goal from about 20 yards out. I got on my guys to focus, don't let this make us lazy, etc. They threw a deep out just shy of the endzone, but my safety was there to tip it away. Fourth down, they floated it to the endzone, but my center safety went up and intercepted it. Granted, dropping it might've been better, giving us the ball another 10 yards downfield, but I wasn't going to complain. We started downfield, but their defense stopped us shy of the endzone yet again, turnover on downs. But we were deep in their side of the field, so that was okay by me. I had two of my guys on the line dropping back 5 yards into coverage, with my safeties playing really deep. I figured with a short time left, I'd make sure they'd have to try to heave it. They must've done about 5 dumpoff passes short into the middle, and the flag-pulling was much improved. They took up about 7 plays, but the half ended without another score. At halftime, I gathered my boys around me. It'd been up to that point a pretty physical game. Their players had been taught to block - not set picks but actively block, shoving kids around - and as a result, they were pushing our boys around. I had a part-time assistant coach bring it up to the officials, but I stayed with the kids. Some were saying they would call this person or that person to complain, but I got them calmed and started on the peptalk. Stuff like, "guys, we're not playing as well as we can. Just do your job, and trust your teammates that they'll do theirs." Or, "Gentlemen, we don't talk - we play. Let their players talk to the officials and complain, we don't talk. We do our talking with our play." Things like that, but I was serious. My main thing is for my team to play disciplined, no matter what. We don't lose our composure, we don't play dirty, and any player of mine that I see playing dirty is shipped off the field to sit for a spell. My players know this, and know I won't change that, and they respect how I operate, I think. They're great kids, really, and a treasure to coach. To start the second half, I used the same kicker - which I know meant alot to him. He put it deep again, pinning them deep. So we lined up to play defense, and ... didn't. Play defense, I mean. They dropped an easy pass on first down, then we blitzed on second down. The QB saw the blitz before it happened, did a quick lateral to the RB, who ran right down the middle. Ran all the way to the endzone, to our shock. Then the extra point was converted far too easily, making it 13-6. I gathered up the boys, and while they opponents marched down the field, I spoke - not yelled - in an even tone. How we've been down before, this is no big deal, one touchdown, let's just go make it up. And make it up they did. My boys got serious, setting solid picks and running like mad. 6 yards, 4 yards, 11 yards, on and on. We went with playaction one first down, completed it to one of the o-linemen who had caught only one pass all season. He was tackled for a 10 yard gain - literally tackled. About the seventh or eighth tackle of the game, and the third straight play. The previous play was a tackle where the same boy literally pulled down the shorts of my player, getting dragged behind until my RB tripped over him (and his shorts). And yet - no flag. Parents on both sides were yelling, so I gathered my boys and called timeout. I couldn't believe there wasn't a flag yet again, and gave the official (who I know very well) a questioning look, but figured it was what it was. I told my kids that if the official isn't calling it, we needed to simply play stronger, and not let the other team get us out of our game. My boys were really great all season, and this was no exception. They all nodded and said 'okay coach'. We got back in the huddle, I switched up QB's to put my son out at WR, and had the QB run it his way. My son isn't the best athlete, not by any stretch. He gets by on playing smart, playing hard, and never giving in. He's got heart. In this game it showed. He wasn't playing well at QB, not running well. So he's out at WR, the play comes his way, and he started to run a quick out. As soon as the CB turned his back, Noah set a pick just behind him. The QB ran past, and the CB slammed into my son at full speed, never seeing him. My son took the hit, the kid falling on him, but he freed the path for the QB to run 15 yards for the touchdown. We failed the extra point again (!), so we were still down 13-12. Plenty of time left, I was relaxed. I heard later from a number of parents/grandparents/etc that the mood on the sideline wasn't very positive. I kept my kids on the field, and kept them pumped up. Our time, I reminded them. Fourth quarter was our time, all season long. We'd only allowed 2 TD's in the fourth quarter all season long, the last being in game 3. So despite the rapidly vanishing clock, I told them I was confident they'd get the job done. It was a great kickoff again for us, pinning the Fins deep. Our kicker had only kicked well in the past two games, but in these past two games he was sending it 50+ yards, one time well out of the endzone. This time was no different, he sent it sailing. They started to return it, but the returner dropped the ball just outside of the endzone. To make matters worse (for them), he grabbed the ball and threw it into the ground, yelling something. The official threw the flag - they are really big on sportsmanship and proper behavior, and this kid had been warned before. So they were pinned deep, very deep, maybe 4 yards from their endzone. First down, they went with their heavy right set - putting 5 receivers to their right bunched, leaving the QB, Center, and one other player on the line. They went deep, but my safety was there to knock the ball away, almost intercepting it. Flag on the play back at the LOS - in our league the offense must have 5 players on the line, and they had only 3. I declined, taking the down instead. We blitzed on second down, getting them just a half-step outside of the endzone. (I thought we had the safety, but the official disagreed, so I nodded and set up my defenses.) Third down they went back to their heavy 5 WR's set (heavy to their right), and looked for a crossing pattern going right to left. Our coverage was good, and we rushed after the five count. He tried to pass short, but the ball was knocked away. Fourth and about 15, they elected to punt. In our league, there are no fake punts, and no rushing during punt attempts. Good punt, too. Must've been 4 seconds of hang-time, and went probably 35 yards. It was fielded by my #2 QB, who is an excellent RB, great in the open field. He started hard left, then cut back right. There was one pick set on the play, just about 3 yards ahead of where my returner caught the ball - set, of course, by my son. The two went down again, but he held the edge for the returner to get to the sideline. He took it all the way, touchdown. I looked across the field. Eight players of mine on the field, and five of them had been knocked to the ground. Only my son had set a pick. But they all bounced up, running to congratulate that return. H (that's what we call him - "H") asked if I could put Noah as QB, he was sore and winded. I said sure, and we ran a playaction pass. Incomplete, but they came in and tackled the QB as he threw. They finally threw a flag - but not for tackling. For offsides. No blitzing on extra points. So now both QB's are sore and winded, right? My son shook off the idea of stepping out, and proceeded - right in front of me - to call the play. Fake handoff to the RB coming left to right, pump fake left, then come back to the RB for a pass. They ran it, hit the RB in stride, and he was tackled inside the goalline. 19-13, our lead. 3:45 remaining. Did I mention we found a great kicker? I let him kick again, and while it wasn't as good as the first two, it was still good, and we stopped them with good coverage. After the kick my right CB came running over to me, asking to switch to the other side. A (yup, we call him "A") thought he was more aggressive, he could attack that side easier than the current CB there. Normally I'd say no, but the way he asked, he was not being cocky or insulting the other player, he just wanted to help the team do well. I said sure, and had the CB's switch. Their first play was a go pattern down the right sideline, but the defense deep had tight man coverage so the QB went short. The pass went incomplete, tipped away by A, the CB who asked to switch sides. The Fins didn't call timeout (with 3 remaining), and set up quickly again, no huddle. They went with their 5 wide set again, probably the 8th or 9th time in the game. The blitz forced a quick dumpoff to the RB, but A read it instantly and was there to pull the flag just as the RB caught the pass. I gave him a loud cheer and when he turned to flash that sheepish grin I pointed at him, saying "you called it!" He gave me a thumbs up, but that grin - that's probably why I love to coach. I cheer on my players who do the little things as much as if not more than those who make the big plays. When we returned that punt, I was picking kids up, hugging my son for his pick, all of that. A better example was on our first touchdown when our RB threw to the receiver. I was giving high-fives first to the kids on the line, the ones who set the wall to give the RB time to throw - they made it possible for the RB to get the pass off. And it's in those moments, when you see those kids smile - when they know that while most people don't notice what they've done, the coach does. They realize in that moment that they take part in all of the touchdowns, all of the passes and runs and extra points - those are the moments I cherish more even than the touchdowns or wins. Third down, they went for another deep go pattern. My safety had great coverage and tipped the ball away. But they both went down, their feet got tangled as the ball arrived. While I disagreed (and still do!), the official called pass interference. Considering that only my player went up for the ball and the receiver didn't ... but I hustled my guys to the line. There was some question about the penalty & spot of the ball, and there was some commentary from the sidelines (both sides) about the call, and I took advantage of the delay to get my boys back on track. With noise all around, and some level of arguing going on, my boys started to complain about the call. I quickly put an end to it by saying loudly "what's rule number one?" "Listen to the coach!" came the reply. "Rule number two?" "Do your job!" It's something we do multiple times per practice, it's how the boys know it's time to pay attention and listen, helps them focus. "We don't talk, boys - we play. We do our jobs - it's not our job to officiate, it's our job to play, do our positions. Like the call, don't like it, doesn't matter - he made the call, that's his job. Now let's go do ours. Ready?" Oh, they were ready. 10 yards, automatic first down. The clocked stopped at the penalty, but they hadn't called a timeout yet, under 1:30 to go. Next pass was another go pattern, opposite sideline. We had tight coverage again, and the ball was tipped yet again. It bounced off the receiver's head into the air. My other safety - the twin brother of the safety who tipped the pass came over and made a fantastic diving catch in our endzone. Interception! And a touchback as well, our ball on the 10 - with only 57 seconds left. They had three timeouts, so we couldn't just take a knee, we had to play. Five different players said almost in unison - "Noah's the QB, right?" Including my other QB, who didn't want the ball (completely exhausted). My son was glad to step up, took the handoff and faked, running wide left before cutting upfield. 2 yards, but more importantly he took time off the clock. Second down, he was sure they were going to blitz, so he faked again and took it straight up the middle. 1 yard, better than a loss. Third down, he came to me with a grin. "Handoff, coach. Let's hand it off this time." I nodded, and we ran the RB reverse. They came at him hard (yet another tackle, believe it or not), but my RB - who was also the safety who tipped away that pass) - took it on the reverse, 45 yards, flag pulled at about the 5 yard line. Another timeout, their last, and we walked to the line. 13 seconds left. Noah took a knee, game over. 19-13. Championship, undefeated. And ... just wow. I have to say that this team was seriously fun to coach. Long before the wins started piling up, I was saying that this was one of the favorite teams I'd coached, because of how the players came together. They bonded in a way that was very special to watch. And they understood when it was time to play, and time to get serious. They took to heart what I say about the two rules: #1, listen to the coach; #2, do your job. They did it well, and had alot of fun. In fact, I'm having the father of one of my players make shirts for the players, to commemorate their achievement. Undefeated championship season, and they came together so well long before the playoffs were in sight. I coach for these reasons, and for these kids. Good kids, all of them, with heart and character and determination - and they all have fantastic smiles. Have to say, I love them all. Sorry this is so long-winded, this was a heck of a game, and a heck of a season. Take care, all!
  9. I run an 8 on 8 team, so what I throw out here is conjecture more than anything else. I've always coached with the idea of making the offense do what it doesn't want to do, or at least take away their favorite options. In your case, I'm thinking that Star#1(QB/RB) likes to run first, throw to Star#2 second, right? I think if you have someone who can do a fair job with the receiver, consider putting two players man to man on the RB, outside and inside. It'll take some coaching, as they'll need to ensure that the outside defender - regardless of which way he runs - doesn't let him get to the outside. Force him back inside to the other defender. The only option at that point is to look for one of those players who isn't as good, or at least isn't one of their stars. And with three defenders occupied with containing those, your remaining two players will need to be smart and sharp in order to play an effective zone, but I think it's at least possible that if these two are accustomed to running the show, they'll get frustrated and possibly force a few things. Also, if that first guy doesn't get the handoff, then one guy sticks man to man with him, and the other joins in to help the zone defense. I don't know if it will work, or if this even helps, but good luck!
  10. Oh, absolutely rush. The extra 3 yards comes out to 9 feet - most kids will cover that in just a fraction of a second, so it doesn't make much difference, in my opinion. As for offensively, if they're not checking the 7 seconds well, set up pass plays that give the receivers a second or third change of direction - with 7 seconds, I think you could have a receiver do a deep out, then run back inside, and then go deep again. We have 5 seconds before a rush (blitzes can be done once every set of downs), and even with the five count ending in under 3 seconds most times we've still managed to get some pretty complicated plays off. And with that age group? I'd be afraid to not rush!
  11. Yes, due to scheduling we ended up playing them twice. The first time was the first win, 24-13. We weren't sharp, but the defense was solid. My QB's were 6 for 15, but my son was 6-8 with 2 touchdowns, solidifying his place atop the depth chart. We had 2 interceptions, so the defense worked pretty well. The second was also a win, but we spotted them 13 at the start. It was a truly sloppy game for the first half - the defense took bad angles, corners lost contain and allowed runners to get outside, pulling flags became almost impossible! We threw the ball deep once - 15 yards deeper than the receiver. Two fumbles, all sorts of stuff. Granted, we didn't have my top two safeties, but still as I told the boys that's no excuse. But to invert a paraphrasing of Dickens, it was the worst of games and then it was the best of games. We got the ball to start the second half, and I scripted the first five plays during halftime so we could go a sort of 'no huddle'. It caught the opposing team offguard, the coach was struggling to keep up. Their kickoff was deep, and we fumbled the ball, losing it about five yards out of the endzone. Still, we got a first down with the second play, then another on the third play. On the fifth play, my son wanted to change the play to his favorite - Ghost. It's a play fake when the WR comes in motion, the QB fakes to him, then rolls out right. Noah ran it well, hit the RB down the sdeline deep and bam, touchdown. We ran the same play for the extra point, except we handed it off to the WR for the reverse instead of faking. He scooted in, making it 13-7. Our kickoff was deep, and they started using clock, doing short runs but getting first downs. When they finally attempted a pass, we picked it off at the goal line. We marched it successfully, but when we got close to the endzone the RB stumbled, lost his grip on the ball - and they caught it. But the defense held up, and we got another interception. This time it was my son, moving from his usual defensive line position to cover at safety, wrestling the ball away from the receiver as they both fell to the ground. Three plays later, the ball was handed off to the RB who threw a short out, touchdown. 48 seconds left, 13-13. The celebration was short-lived, as they scored on the kickoff. We blocked the extra point, but when we got the kickoff to midfield, we had 13 seconds remaining. With no timeouts, we ran a hook & ladder play. Worked to perfection, scoring a touchdown. No time left on the clock, and it was 19-19. We ran the same play as we ran before for the touchdown, the RB pass to the short out, and touchdown - 20-19, we win. SO..! It was 24-13 the first time, but it was 20-19 the second time - although it was without my starting safeties. And since that fateful game, the boys have outscored opponents 79-13, including 79-0 in the last 10 quarters. So I'm hopeful that the boys have picked up on what they're doing well enough to do what I know they can do - play well, execute accurately, win the game. There are other circumstances involved in this game also, so we'll see if nervousness kicks in or not! Thanks for asking!
  12. Perhaps this is a premature topic, given that there is still a week left in the season, but since I've gotten a few emails asking about my boys, so I figured I'd put this out there. To begin with, I knew most of the players I had on the team this season, but I'd only coached about half of them in football. Most I'd coached in basketball, and a few I'd seen over the years but never coached them. I knew the schedule ahead of time, so I actually gathered my team together on the Saturdays before the season started, to give them a chance to play together and give me a chance to see how they were going to gel. I was encouraged not by the supreme talent level we showed (it was okay) but by how these boys quickly came together as a team, cheering each other on, etc. Those who've known me know how I approach things with my son. Noah is a great kid, but as an athlete he's only average. He makes up the difference with hustle, heart, determination, and smarts. He started once again this season as the #5 QB on the team with my initial assessments. I had to drop two of them because they couldn't handle the pressure (good kids, just not good with that QB pressure), leaving me with three. Noah's the slowest, the shortest, the slowest, with the weakest arm. So naturally, by the first game, he was the starter. I couldn't help it - they were more athletic, but he completed passes. It doesn't hurt that I've used essentially the same playbook for the past 4 years, and he's been with me as it has grown from 8 plays to a now ridiculous 96. He knows the playbook, the plays, where everyone is supposed to line up, all of it. Defensively, I decided to stay with my usual defense. I put my experienced, skilled, talented kids deep and on the outside, with my weaker kids filling space in the middle - excepting my son, who I always play on the defensive line. We play 8 on 8, so I play three in the box, two corners who act more as defensive ends (their job isn't to chase receivers but to set the edge), and three safeties deep who play zone unless I say otherwise. I rotated players in, making sure I kept two of my safeties on the field at all times to protect deep. My offense revolves alot on misdirection and play-action fakes to the RB's for a pass or QB run. I thought to stay run-heavy until the opposing defense stopped it, passing when necessity dictated (3rd & long, etc). I truly didn't know what to expect for the first game. Turns out I didn't need to worry. Most teams had run 3 practices before the first game - we'd run 6 practices, and it showed. We had 3 interceptions, 1 returned for a TD, and held them scoreless on the way to a 24-0 win. No extra points, but Noah as a starter went 6-8 with 2 TD's. Game 2 went easier - we didn't score as often, as their offense was SLOW (taking sometimes 60 seconds between plays!). It was a solid win, defense was solid again, with only a few mental errors. Game 3 was a breeze. Our opponent played tight man to man all game long, despite being beat repeatedly with crosses and comeback routes. It was a great defensive game as well. Games 4 & 5, I think the boys got their heads a bit swollen. They played poorly on offense and defense in the first half, going down 13-0 in both cases. Game 4, they tied it up with 48 seconds left, only to give up another touchdown on the first play from scrimmage. At least the defense held, a great play from a corner to knock the pass away. We got the ball back with 13 seconds left, but we ran a hook & ladder which went perfectly, tying the game with no time left. A great read on the extra point, and we won it. The second, my defense went to work and didn't allow a first down in the second half, and running an interception back for a TD to win it. We finished the season with a blowout, 33-0. We allowed one first down, no completions, and had 3 interceptions. The boys really stepped up, to the point where I pulled out my best defenders at the start of the 4th quarter, but it didn't change things. Round 1 of the playoffs, and it was another solid win, 27-0. We actually had 5 interceptions in the game, two in the endzone. What amazes me as their coach is how well they've picked up everything, and they way they support each other. We had our first turnover of the season, throwing a pick in the second quarter. We intercepted it back in the endzone - and the player who picked it off ran it over to my son (the QB who threw the INT) and stuck it in his gut with a huge grin, saying "here - got it back for you. Let's have some fun!" It's that team spirit that has me so impressed, the way they band together. They're having fun, and as a coach I encourage it. The last 10 quarters they've outscored opponents 79-0, with 10 interceptions. Over the season they've picked off 16, with at least one every game. Offensively we're averaging 26 points a game, almost 30 over the last three games. Combined they've thrown for 13 TD's and 1 INT. My son, the least athletic of my QB's, finished completing over 70% of his passes, 9 TD's and 1 INT, a TD in every game. He also ran for 50 yards a game and 3 TD's. My team finished strong - I'm hoping he comes to practice or a game and insists that he can d So ... I'm seriously nervous about this weekend's game, honestly. I figure my practices this week will need to be highly focused, or the boys might just lose their discipline in the game. The last thing they want to do is spot this team 14 points and fight their way back, like the last time we faced this team. Wish us luck!
  13. I coach an 8 on 8 team, ages 10-12. And I just love facing M2M defenses. My starting QB (my son) isn't the quickest or fastest, he doesn't have the strongest arm, but he's smart and reads defenses quickly. My receivers have learned over the season how to adjust to the defense that's in front of them, and we have a good time with it. Once I know I'm facing man, I give my receivers 2 or 3 options on the play, 2 routes to run depending on the defense - inside or outside. For example, my slot receiver will either have a deep out or post or short in - all depending on the coverage. I ran a zone defense for the most part, using man only when a receiver is really burning us - which happened only once this season. I put 3 players "in the box", a corner on each side, with three safeties. The corners set the edge, forcing all runners inside so no one gets to the sidelines. The safeties play deep, communicate constantly (the hardest thing to coach!), and do not chase receivers. If an opposing WR runs a deep cross or post or the like, the safety yells out to the center to cover. I have 4 really good safeties and two safeties who are okay, so we don't get beat deep often. So - why play man? I suppose if there is that one player who is burning you with moves or speed or whatnot, put someone man-up on him. If not, I don't see a reason.
  14. Holy cow, seriously? That's just shocking, the email you described. Oddly enough, I encountered a similar situation recently, two weeks ago. We were up 33-0, the other team had no timeouts, and to make matters worse they fumbled the kickoff and barely got it out of the goal. So I called a timeout, for two reasons: one, to explain to my kids that we will not blitz and - like you said - we would not return any interceptions; and two, to give their coach a little time with his players, give them a little break. But my kids were told point-blank that they would NOT score a touchdown on an interception, they would take it out of bounds or just drop to a knee. As it happens, we picked them off on second down. It was a great INT, and the safety took it in stride with nothing but green in front of him. But rather than score, he took it out of bounds at the 2. With about 90 seconds left, I instructed the QB to take a knee three times, that we'd run out the clock. I'm thrilled with the parents, they cheered them loudly during the kneel-downs. But I had a coach and a parent from the other team who complained that I was "rubbing it in" by having my QB - who is, ironically, my son, and hadn't scored in that game - just take a knee. I tried being nice about it, explaining that I was trying to NOT rub it in, but they persisted. I tried to walk away, but they literally followed me! I finally turned and said (a little too loudly, I think) "hey, we had 2 yards to go and you hadn't stopped us all game - would you rather have lost 40 nothing?" The parent then 'explained' that by taking a knee I didn't give their defense a chance to get an interception. To which I replied rather calmly that we wouldn't have passed it anyway, it would've been four straight runs if need be, and walked away again. I like to say that no good deed goes unpunished. Situations like these, I know it's right.
  15. My team has a "trick" play that they love, called "Ghost". We play 8 on 8, both teams must have 5 players on the line, defense must wait 5 seconds before they can rush, one blitz allowed with each fresh set of downs. We also have been instructed that there are no "trick handoffs" (ie, behind the back, statue of liberty, etc) - so each handoff has to be in front of the player or extended outward. I run this play either on 1st down or after the other team has blitzed. I have my players aligned as follows: one back offset to the QB's right side, QB under center, WR to the right is off the line of scrimmage and wide, WR to the left is wide and on the line, I have a slot receiver on the left side, and TE's or O-line on either side of the Center. The QB brings the right WR in motion with a nod, and calls for the snap just before the WR gets there. The QB fakes the handoff to the WR in motion, tucks the ball to his chest and turns for about a half-second to watch the WR. Everyone blocks for about a second. Meanwhile, the RB takes off to the right, straight out - he doesn't go down the field until he reaches the sideline. The QB rolls right, and the Center and the Right End hold their picks, to give the QB an extra second. The routes being run are as follows: the Left End runs a short crossing pattern, the left WR runs a deep crossing pattern, and the slot receiver to the left runs a deep post. It's my son's favorite play to run - he's my QB. I've instructed him that as soon as he rolls, he's looking at the safety on the deep right. If he bites on the run, the RB will be open deep. If the safety goes deep, he has to look to the cornerback on the right, to watch him - if he attacks the QB's run, the short cross is open. Then there is the deep crossing pattern, which runs right where the safety sets up - if the safety goes deep with the RB, that spot is open. And when all is said and done, the QB always has the option to simply to tuck the ball and run with it. The entire intention is to put alot of pressure on a few of the opposing players to play their positions accurately. We've had great success with this, the only times it hasn't work has been incompletions. We ran this play this past Saturday three times - short completion for about 8 yards, QB run for about 5 yards, and a pass to the WR on the deep cross for about 25 yards. It's pretty fun for the kids, too, partially I think because they like the name! I'll try to put it up here - I have my playbook in Excel. Good luck!