Monthly Archives: October 2011

Defense: Keep It Simple and Aggressive

Should we call this the “KISA” principle? Hmmm.

A great link on the Gap 8.

This defense is fundamentally sound meaning it assigns responsibility for all gaps. It covers all receivers. It relies on man-to-man (cover 0) coverage which is much easier to teach than zone. It is designed to control the sweep. And it is simple to install, understand, and troubleshoot. The weakness is it’s susceptible to the off tackle play. And it requires disciplined, tough, reliable DEs.

The hallmark of gap 8, 10-1, and 7-diamond defenses is their assignment of a single gap responsibility per player. A 4-4, 4-3, 5-3, 5-2, et al, each require a defensive lineman to cover more than one gap (or dog LBs every single play). This is a lot to ask of a youth football defender. In my experience, very few can actually do it. I think non-Gap 8 defenses succeed in youth football because youth offensive lines fail or youth offenses kill their own drives with penalties, incompletions, or turnovers. I don’t want to rely on the other team’s failure in order to be successful. I prefer my defensive players to just aggressively shoot their gap, get penetration, and blow the play up rather than worry about reading the blocking pressure at the line of scrimmage.

So we’ll be running a Gap 8. The problem I’ve encountered running the Gap 8, straight up, is offenses adjust to it as OLs quickly familiarize themselves with WHO they need to block as it’s the same person every play. So we are probably going to add a couple of wrinkles to create the illusion of complexity in the minds of our opponent. Hopefully we don’t end up confusing ourselves. The defense will “look” like a 5-3 alignment but 1 LB will dog on every play to fill the “8th” gap. Hopefully, a habitual line slant and changing LB blitz will keep them guessing.


A Contrarian Approach to Offense

The Idea of Contrarian Offenses:

Youth football coach John T. Reed often talks about using an offense that your opponent is not accustomed to seeing. The idea is that if you run a Power I or a Pro Set, you are playing in to the opponent’s hands as they probably run these types of systems as well and scrimmage against them every day at practice.

I know that a few of the mountain teams run something resembling a “spread” as well. I think this is a terrific offense but it is becoming cliche as so many high schools and youth teams attempt to run it as well.

I’ve used variations of the single and double wing for 8 years now. But those, too, are becoming more common. I saw a 4th grade game this season where one team ran an unbalanced line single wing against a mountain team. I didn’t know whether to be proud that as I was once ahead of the curve or be upset because now I am “passe” again. I did not see any other coaches running single wing in JMFA 4 years ago.

Here’s some great videos of versions of the single wing in action…

Single Wing Football (An awesomely executed, tight-formation, low-profile, hide-the-ball version. Looks like a Dave Cisar single wing)

More Single Wing Football (One split end, multiple “snap-to” backs, innovative use of multiple formations)

So now that the single wing has become somewhat “orthodox” it is time to evolve once again. I’ve given consideration to the “Lonesome Polecat” (developed by Tiger Ellison and the precurser of the run and shoot), and the “A-11” (which is so good it’s illegal in many states) but have chosen to build around the “spread jet” which is NOT a “spread” offense, per se, but uses a spread formation with single wing blocking. It can also be tweaked to incorporate A-11-esque shifts into unbalanced formation which will cause a defense to “cover” an ineligible lineman with a linebacker thus wasting a defender. We’ll roll that nuance out in 5th and 6th grade.

2011: A Great Season!

“Looking for trouble.”


All told, it was a terrific season.  We had an undeafeted regular season.  We scored 237 points (best in league).  And we gave up only 129 points (also best in league).  Oh, and we had a 32-7 playoff win.

Great job, everyone!

Although the ending was a little disappointing, we can be proud of what we achieved as a first year team.

Our first graders have a terrific core to build around.  What we need to do now is go out and spread the word about our program to all the first graders and parents of first graders who want to be a part of our team next year.  We should expect big things in 2012 as we’ll have a year of experience that most other teams won’t.

Our kindergartners need to get the word out, too.  We’re not 100% sure if Todd will be taking over Tiny Mites next season… we all hope he does… but if so, we want to make sure he has a good group of kids as well.

Our goal is to build a COMPLETE PROGRAM and take these kids all the way up to high school.

I’ll be in touch with all of you in the coming months.  Please come back to the site and check for updates.  I’ll also be putting highlights, game videos, playbooks, our team philosophy, practice templates, important dates, registration info, playbooks (password protected, of course), links to great football sites, and whatever else I can come up with on this blog.

Feel free to comment here and/or email me any time.

Coach Grice