Saturday, October 27, 2007

Coaches breathe life into single wing offense

Coaches breathe life into single wing offense

U.P. powerhouse Menominee one of the few that use it

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) -- The cult meets Friday nights.

In red and black, its members take a soggy grass stage under bright white lights. These are the Port St. Lucie High Jaguars -- true believers all.

Their Bible: Pop Warner's playbook. Their religion: The single wing.

Heard of it? The single wing is an offense that came on the scene about a century ago but faded after World War II. It is found on black-and-white highlight reels and was used when players could fold their helmets.

No team in the NFL runs it, nor does any major college. But like some ancient sect, it's still alive, its priests a small, determined cadre of 50 to 100 high school coaches throughout the country, who fight to keep it on the field.

Some find great success -- Menominee in Michigan and Giles High School in Virginia have won state championships. Others, like the Jaguars (2-4), are just trying to be competitive.

"You can make a normal team into a single-wing team," said John Reed, an author who has written about the formation. The first obstacle is telling the players that passing will be all but passe. "You just have to tell the quarterback, 'Son, we're going to make you the waterboy.'"

The Jaguars, like other single-wing teams, use a wonky, lopsided line -- the center isn't always in the middle, but sometimes where one of the guards would normally be. The four backs are stacked in places that backs simply do not go -- two, for example, might be staggered directly behind a tackle. There are usually no wide receivers. The snap darts three to five yards to one of two backs behind the center, and the cunning misdirection begins.

The backs crisscross and converge. Like a rabbit bow on a shoelace, one back sprints one way while the other slinks in the opposite direction.

Not only is the defense often confused, but fans sometimes can't follow the action. Port St. Lucie coach Doug Kerr can recall a touchdown greeted with silence from band members because they didn't realize the team had scored.

The direct-snap offense is oriented toward running, not passing -- created for teams with speed, not necessarily size or power. It is the offense of illusionists, built on deceptive plays and do-it-all backs. It is a dying art, existing only because of the few who trust its befuddling scheme.

Glenn S. "Pop" Warner developed the single wing, which dominated football in the early 1900s after the legalization of the forward pass. Before the single wing, former Baylor coach Grant Teaff said, teams ran a wedge offense, which led to too many injuries.

"Single wing was the origin of the modern-day running game, because it was primary based on the ability to run. ... Every detail of the game, it was able to do," Teaff said. "Pretty well everything sprang from the single wing."

From the early 1900s to around the mid-century mark, it was in fashion.

The string of players and coaches who used the attack weaves through decades. Princeton's Dick Kazmaier. Reds Bagnell of the University of Pennsylvania. Tony Hall of Denison University found fame with the single wing before he found it in the U.S. House of Representatives. Nile Kinnick of Iowa. Pittsburgh Steelers coach Jock Sutherland.

Then came the T-formation and its variations, with its snap from the center directly to the quarterback. By the end of the 1960s, the single wing all but disappeared.

"It sounds like you're running something that's old-fashioned," said East Lee County High School coach Jim Ahern, who used to use to single wing when he coached in Michigan at Ithaca. "But I think like everything, the cycle goes around, and a lot of the things we're running now are things that were successful in the '40s and '50s."

Coaches estimated the single wing is used by 50 to 100 high school teams around the nation. Only a handful of high school teams in Florida run it -- and that has its advantages.

Coaches say because of the single wing's uniqueness, opponents enter games unprepared. They cannot possibly learn the formation's feints and twists in a few practices and often have trouble keeping up.

"We'll be better as a running team and a passing team, because most people in the state of Florida really don't run this offense," said Travelle Davis, a fullback at Apopka High, which runs the wing. "It'll open up a lot. It'll make us a better team."

The flip side is that it takes an offense time to master the deceptive plays and maneuvers. And the complexities also make it a bit of a hard sell for players accustomed to throwing the ball.

"I was confused. I was like, no quarterback? What kind of offense is this?" Apopka running back Jeremy Gallon. "But then as the days went on and we started to play ... I started to like it."

Giles High coach Stephen Ragsdale started running the single-wing 30 years ago because he knew it best, learning it from a rival coach -- his father.

"It's what I knew and it's all I knew so that's what we did," Ragsdale said. "My third year, we won a state championship and the best record that this school had ever had prior to that was like 7 wins and 3 losses. We had success with it right away, so we just stuck with it."

Coaches who share the common bond of this decidedly uncommon offense travel from across the country each year for a single-wing clinic.

"Everybody speaks the same language," Kerr said. "If you go to a regular football clinic, people don't know what you're talking about."

Denison started to use the single wing in the 1970s because former coach Keith Piper had a triple-threat player who could pass, run and punt -- single wing teams sometimes quick kick. Its obscurity gave the team an advantage of unprepared opponents.

"It was different. People didn't get to see it week in, week out." former offensive coordinator Jack Hire said. "They hadn't played against it. They hadn't practiced against it."

But Hire said Denison also limited its recruiting to players who were up to an offensive challenge. The school abandoned the formation in the 1990s.

The Port St. Lucie Jaguars still cling to the faith, however, even if times are troubled.

"The only way it works," fullback Danny Byrne said, "is if you think it's going to work."


Feels more like days of old for Giles

Feels more like days of old for Giles, Floyd
By Ray Cox

A visitor to the Giles High School football practice field earlier this week was distracted from observing some particularly crisp and crunching defensive drills by an indistinct off-white blob on the western horizon above Narrows.

"What do you suppose that is?" the guest said to a coach.

"Can't tell," came the reply.

By and by, coming more clearly in focus, the blob was seen to be some sort of very large aircraft.

Now it is true that on a past visit in another year to the same chewed up piece of Giles County real estate, the U.S. Navy coincidentally had also dropped by from on high. The F/A-18 Hornet passed so low to the deck that the pilot's features were clearly visible as he gazed down on the hard-working Spartans below.

This time, no fighter jet was approaching from the west but instead a bulbous dirigible. The blimp was flying low and noisily and presumably was making a leisurely flight to more populated parts, where it might advertise the delights of a successful restaurant chain.

One of the Giles coaches suggested a more sinister purpose.

"That's Winfred Beale up there," he muttered.

That would be the coach of the Floyd County High Buffaloes, the Spartans' guest tonight for the annual Three Rivers District smashfest.

Beale dismissed charges of airborne espionage.

"If we had those kind of resources to rent a blimp to spy on them, we'd use them differently than that, I can assure you," the Buffs boss said.

What would be the point?

"We wouldn't see anything we haven't seen in the last 20 years, I'm sure of that," he said.

All (feigned) paranoia aside, this ought to be fun. Floyd County has been a little down the past couple of seasons. Giles has been up -- way up, as in one state Group A Division crown and one runner-up the past two seasons.

Things have evened up some and now this feels more like the days of old. No question, this has been a Spartans and Buffaloes kind of era. Since 1996, the two of them have combined for five state finals appearances, three of those by Giles.

Only one of them will have a chance to repeat that rare football feat this year.

"We believe whoever wins the district is the only one going to the playoffs," Giles coach Steve Ragsdale said.

History is with him there. Assuming that form holds and favored James River hangs on in the Pioneer, and most likely Grayson County and George Wythe nail down the Mountain Empire and Hogoheegee, respectively, there will be no room for a Region C wild card, same as last year when one-loss Glenvar stayed home.

Both contestants bring 6-0 records overall, and 2-0 in the district, to the Spartans' stadium. Floyd County has won four in a row while averaging 39.2 points per game during the streak. Giles has taken five straight while averaging 36.2.

Floyd County has been rolling briskly behind quarterback Luke Harris, fullback Travis Bolt and tailback Kent Moles. Last time out, for example, that trio sparked a rout of Eastern Montgomery by accounting for the bulk of their team's 505 yards. Bolt, a senior, ran for 110 yards and three TD's. Moles, also a senior, stampeded the Mustangs with 104 overland yards and two TD's. Harris, a junior, also scored and had 290 yards total offense, including 179 yards on 12-for-19 passing.

Moles, who Beale figures to be among the top two- or three-fastest players he's ever had, got a late start on the sport. He never played until he was a freshman. Coincidentally, that was soon after he'd met Bolt.

"He lived right down the road from me and I never knew it until I came up to the high school," Moles said. "Now me and him are best friends."

Friendly relations continue on the playing field.

"He blocks, I follow. I run right off his butt," Moles said. "He's a really good blocker and a really good player. He makes good holes. I follow him, I know I'm going to get some yards."

Bolt is impressed with how far and how fast Moles has come as a football player.

"It's awesome and I'm really glad," Bolt said. "He's fast, he's strong, he's just an all-around athlete."

Which is a good description of the two of them, really. Both of them are bruisers. Bolt goes 5-foot-11, 188 pounds. Moles is 5-9, 197. Either one of them can use his speed to get away from a defender. Failing that, they'd just as soon opt to run over top of him.

They both play defense, Moles at end and Bolt at outside linebacker. By now they know the drill on trying to stop the Spartans fearsome single-wing.

"You got to attack them," Bolt said. "You can't wait. You can't get back on your heels. Attack them and get them back on their heels. Giles is really hard to read. You got to play your responsibility and hope it comes your way."


Juggernauts meet at Mitchell

Juggernauts meet at Mitchell

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD — There are three Class AA football teams with unbeaten records in West Virginia. There will be at least one less after tonight.

One week after squeaking past Richlands with a last second field goal in a 16-13 win over the defending Virginia Group AA, Division 3 state champions, the Beavers will meet another juggernaut.

Fred Simon wouldn’t have it any other way. That game is over. James Monroe is next on the slate for what could be a rainy night at Mitchell Stadium. That moisture isn’t expected to impact the turf field, but could be a deterrent to the expected large crowd.

“It’s fantastic, it can rain and rain and rain, and this field will be in great shape,” said Simon, Bluefield’s head coach. “I would hope for our fans on both sides that it would possibly slow down so they can come to the game and it may very well by then.”

Bluefield hasn’t had much time to worry about the rain. It wasn’t long after Asher Sexton’s field goal sailed through the uprights that the Beavers turned their attention to the Mavericks.

“You’ve got too move on (from Richlands) because that’s the way the playoffs are,” Simon said. “When you get in the playoffs, you’ve got to do that, we may go undefeated and we may not, but we never look at that part of our schedule.

“We always try to get a competitive schedule to where if we’re good enough to get in the playoffs, we have a chance because we have played such a competitive schedule and that’s what we do.”

They’ve done it well. So has James Monroe. While the Beavers (7-0) are the top-ranked Class AA team in the WVSSAC ratings system, the Mavericks (8-0) are third. No matter what happens in this one, Simon doesn’t expect either team to drop far.

“Whoever wins this one will be locked in, and whoever loses it, I would say, both teams have won enough games where you would finish in the top four, no matter what,” Simon said. “They just wouldn’t finish first or second, they’d finish third or fourth at least.”

While Bluefield comes in off a hard-fought win over Richlands, the Mavericks thrashed Mount View 53-0. The Beavers had walloped the Knights 62-0 the previous week.

It’s being hyped as, perhaps, the biggest game in West Virginia this week, although Simon insists it’s no bigger than several other games on their schedule.

“They’re big, it’s as big as Richlands, it’s as big as Graham, Princeton, pick them out, they’ll all the same,” Simon said. “The result would definitely help us a little bit, but had either of those other teams beaten us, it would have been the same thing.

“They’re definitely a tough ball club, they’re physical, they’ve got a big offensive line and a big defensive line too, it’s going to be a tough game.”

There’s nothing secretive about James Monroe. The Mavericks’ Single Wing offense feature three talented backs running behind a big, experience offensive line. The Beavers task is to stop it.

“It’s unique, it’s misdirection and right at you, and it’s a nice offensive line to run behind,” Simon said.

The Mavs’ offensive line, led by Justin Romanello and Adam Gum, will try to make space for Taylor Robertson (1,206 yards, 23 td), Ernie Tincher (618, 1 td) and Nick Kisiel (560, 9 td). All have their attributes, Simon says, describing Kisiel as a power runner, Tincher as finesse, and Robertson as a little of both.

“The offensive line is very good. They’ve basically been three-year starters and when you run that offense all the time, they know exactly what they’re doing,” Simon said. “Fundamentally, they’re very sound and I think they move so it is definitely going to be a tough task for us.”

Bluefield will counter with a speedy defense, led by linebackers Shaun Brooks and Jake Lilly, along with Ansel Ponder in the secondary. Their job is to contain the big plays to a minimum.

“You hope so, but their misdirection may catch you where you’re flying one way and they’re coming back the other way.” Simon said. “Before you know it, they’re through our secondary and nobody has the angles and they can out-run us, I think Tincher has as much speed as anyone we have.”

James Monroe is averaging 45.6 points per game, including at least 35 points in every game this season. Most of that comes on the ground. Taylor Robertson has thrown 16 passes all year, but did throw for more than 200 yards in a win over Wyoming East.

“I watched the Wyoming East film and when they’ve needed to they’ll throw,” Simon said. “They’re not going to do it unless they have to and that’s just the way they are and that’s fine because they have been very successful with it.”

Bluefield is tallying 34 points a contest, using a mixture of run and pass, whatever is needed to put points on the board.

“I don’t care how we do it, I don’t care if we score in two seconds or in a quarter,” Simon said. “I would like to get some points on the board any way we can because we have enough speed to where we can score quickly and we can make it a little longer.

“There’s is more of a slower type pace, but if Tincher or Robertson or Kisiel break it, they can get a quick one too.”

Defensively, the Mavs are also talented, allowing just 88 points to Bluefield’s 54. The Beavers have two shutouts, while James Monroe have three, including two in a row.

James Monroe will try to contain a speedy Bluefield offense that is led by quarterback Will Cole, who has thrown for 803 yards and 10 touchdowns, and just one interception. Ansel Ponder (31-386 5 td), Chase Joyner (10-164, 3 td) and Cody Wassum (11-145, 1 td) are his favorite targets.

The Beavers also have four solid options out of the backfield, led by Shaun Brooks (685, 9 td, 8.7 ypc), Jake Lilly (363, 1 td), Aaron Bowes (211, 1 td) and Marcus Patterson (171, 1 td).

“Their defensive is very adequate, and they play hard,” Simon said. “Mainly their defense isn’t out there as much because their offense keeps the ball away from the teams, it’s ball control, ball control.

“If the other team gets it and if they don’t move the ball, they get it right back and you won’t see it again for maybe another quarter. Their defense is very good, but their offense helps their defense quite a bit by keeping the ball away from them.”

Simon was pleased that Bluefield was able to squeak past Richlands last Friday on an Asher Sexton field goal in the final seconds. The Beavers had two games decided in the last minute this minute, having also defeated William Campbell 14-7 earlier this season.

“You win those kind of games and you’re definitely pleased because those are the ones you remember,” Simon said. “You have to battle, your character is tested, your heart is tested.

“You’re in that situation where your back is against the wall and your players find a way to overcome certain situations so it just makes you feel good so I was very pleased.”

Simon expects a tough contest from James Monroe, which defeated Bluefield 41-28 last season, and have won 28 straight regular season games. Their last loss was to Bluefield in 2004.

“They do an outstanding job as far as coaching their players and they have good players and their players play with a lot of heart,” Simon said. “They always play competitive with anybody and if you’re not ready to play, they’re going to kick your butt.”

—Contact Brian Woodson



Tebow will stick to being Tebow

Tebow will stick to being Tebow despite the big hits

By Chris Low

Perhaps unwittingly, Tennessee's coaches were on to something back in September when they dressed one of their freshman quarterbacks in a cape to play the part of Tim Tebow in practice the week of the Florida game.

Very few have played the game like Florida QB Tim Tebow.

Tebow delivered a Superman-like performance a few days later against the Vols and has played like the Man of Steel ever since, rocketing to the top of the Heisman Trophy charts and keeping the Gators alive and well in the Southeastern Conference's Eastern Division race.

Unique isn't the word for Tebow, who's the modern-day version of a single-wing tailback. The difference is that he's packing 235 pounds, can bench-press more than some of his linemen and has already thrown 17 touchdown passes this season.

Georgia coach Mark Richt, who gets an up-close view of Tebow on Saturday in the game formerly known as the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, isn't sure he's ever seen one quite like him.

"How many guys are like Tebow?" Richt said. "How many guys are like Tebow in the last 20 years? Guys who were that unique are household names today. Vince Young at Texas was pretty freaky. He could run it and throw it. Michael Vick was that guy. Charlie Ward had some of that. He was a very talented runner, but we didn't run him as much.

"There were a lot of guys who could run it pretty well, but not a lot could run and throw. Young could do it. Vick could do it. Tebow can do it. That's what makes him unique."

But, remember, even Superman had his Kryptonite.

For Tebow, it might be too many glancing blows. If you believe that a quarterback in the SEC has only so many hits he can absorb in a season and still stay in one piece, Tebow is well on his way to reaching that threshold.

In seven games, he's carried the ball 125 times (for 578 yards and 10 touchdowns). The SEC record for most carries by a quarterback in a season is 190 by Mississippi State's Don Smith in 1985. Tebow has run the ball 100 times in his last five games.

He toted it 20 times last week against Kentucky and exited that game with a bruised right (non-throwing) shoulder. Think the Georgia defenders might favor that side when they're zeroing in on Tebow at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium on Saturday?

"If they come after my shoulder, then I guess they will not be hitting me straight up and I will have a very good chance of breaking that tackle," Tebow said. "I'm not too worried about it."

Others are, notably Florida coach Urban Meyer.

His preference is for Tebow to run somewhere around 10 times a game. Meyer's quarterback at Utah in this same spread-option offense, Alex Smith, had 16 or more carries in only three games during his last two seasons. Tebow has carried it 16 or more times in every game but one this season.

"A lot of them aren't designed quarterback runs," Meyer said. "He just pulls it down. We have to be careful, but we also have to continue to coach him up that, if it's there, just manage the game. We've just had so much success that if it's flip it for a 5-yard gain or him take it for a 5-, 6- or 7-yard gain, he just has the kind of persona that just takes it."

It's also the kind of persona that might find him dodging more doctors than defenders the rest of the way.

"I think, from week to week, it's going to be very, very hard to keep him healthy in this league if he's going to carry it 20-plus times a game," Kentucky coach Rich Brooks said.

Former Mississippi State quarterback John Bond knows a little something about the steep price so many hits can take on a quarterback's body. He was the SEC's all-time leading rusher for a quarterback (2,280 yards from 1980-83) until Arkansas' Matt Jones broke his record in 2004. Jones, now playing receiver for the Jacksonville Jaguars, wound up with 2,535 yards.

But whereas Jones had 382 rushing attempts for his career, Bond had 572 -- far and away the most ever for an SEC quarterback. Tebow, in just seven career starts, already has 214 attempts (for 1,047 yards).

"You've got guys falling on you and landing on you," said Bond, who ran a version of the wishbone offense. "The wear and tear when you're running it that much catches up with you. When I came to State, I was running a 4.4. When I left, I was probably running a 4.6.

"The thing that all that beating on you does, too, is that it affects your passing. You've got to use your whole body when you're throwing the football, and it's hard to do that when you're favoring something. I probably shouldn't have played the last half of my senior year. My whole left side was shot from my shoulder all the way down to my elbow. I had a slipped disc and a ruptured disc in my back.

"I was like a pin cushion."

Nearly 25 years later, Bond still feels all those aches and pains. He cringes when he sees Tebow get hit, but loves watching him play.

The hits have been piling up on Florida QB Tim Tebow.
"He's as tough as they come and wants the ball in his hands, either running it or throwing it," said Bond, who played at about 225 pounds his senior season and ran for 13 touchdowns. "That's what college football's all about, watching that quarterback pull the ball down and make plays like that.

"I know they don't want to get him hurt, but the tough part is that they're not nearly the team they are without him being such a threat to run the ball. If that quarterback's not a threat to run at the college level, then you're playing 10 guys versus 11."

Florida's players say teams have already tried to knock Tebow out this season. Receiver Percy Harvin said LSU's defenders were trying to twist Tebow's legs at the bottom of piles and were also dragging him and falling on top of him.

Tebow, whose 327 yards of total offense per game is higher than 19 entire teams in Division I-A, promises to be smarter the rest of the way when it comes to taking unnecessary hits. But he's not going to change the way he plays, which means he's not going to quit running.

"I don't think you can worry about it or think, 'I'm taking too many hits or I need to get down or something,' " Tebow said. "When you play like that, then you have a much greater chance of getting hurt or getting injured when you're thinking about it and not going out there and playing the way you know how to play.

"I'm just trying to get first downs and put points on the board."

After all, how many quarterbacks can run their own play-action? Similar to a year ago against LSU, Tebow pulled off a fake quarterback draw and jump pass for a touchdown against Kentucky last week.

It had sandlot written all over it. Better yet, it had Tebow written all over it.

"That's the beauty of their whole offense. It's simple," Richt said. "They've got you outnumbered on every play with Tebow on the field."

The tricky part for the Gators may be keeping him on the field.

Chris Low is a college football writer for


Friday, October 26, 2007

Been there, haven't done that

Thursday, October 25, 2007
Been there, haven't done that

John Herrington has seen just about everything in 38 seasons as coach at Farmington Hills Harrison. What he hasn't seen is an opponent using a single-wing offense. His defensive coaches will Friday when Harrison (7-2) hosts Okemos. Lucky for Herrington, he coaches the offense.

The Detroit News


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Phillips powers South past Elizabethton

Phillips powers South past Elizabethton, 58-14
Published 10/26/2007 By Bill Lane

KINGSPORT — Curt Phillips’ path to prominence as a high school quarterback has been lined with Herculean performances.

He turned in another one Thursday night as Sullivan South defeated Elizabethton 58-14 for its eighth win of the football season.

The 6-foot-3, 218-pound Phillips takes direct snaps in South’s shotgun offense, which closely resembles a single wing.

Essentially, he serves as an extra running back when not throwing.

Phillips kept the ball 19 times for 162 yards to become a 1,000-yard rusher for the second time in his three-year career. He also connected on 10 of 13 passes for 171 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Additionally, the Mountain Lakes Conference scoring leader got two touchdowns to extend his season point total to 138.

Opening the game, Elizabethton (3-6, 2-4) refused to accept the role of a heavy underdog. The Cyclones immediately went on the attack and built a 14-0 lead in less than nine minutes.

At this juncture, Phillips took over the game. He set off an avalanche of scoring with his powerful running and pinpoint throwing. After missing his first two passes, he completed the next eight.

He used every inch of the field to find receivers Kaleb Kitzmiller, Houston Martin, Seth Johnson and Bradley Jeffers open on pass plays.

“Curt took it on his shoulders to bring us back,’’ coach Stacy Carter said. “As he began to move the ball, it helped our defense, too.’’

Phillips, who rushed for 1,003 yards as a sophomore, has already topped his best rushing season with 1,053 yards. Anything he gets against Tennessee High in next week’s showdown game simply will be gravy.

“We needed a tough test and handled it pretty well,’’ Phillips said. “Elizabethton’s defenders were kind of playing off our receivers. We knew as long as we protected the ball, we would be successful.’’

Running back Taylor Fletcher enjoyed his second 100-yard rushing effort by gaining 111 on nine carries.

“Fletcher had a great game,’’ Phillips said, “and the line gave us plenty of time to throw.’’

Elizabethton halfback Derek Carr, who rushed for 125 yards on 10 carries in the first half, gave his team a 7-0 lead by racing 57 yards on the fourth play of the game.

On the Cyclones’ next possession, they marched 69 yards to score again. Fullback Brooks Price plunged the final yard for a 14-0 lead.

The two-TD deficit turned South’s lights on.

“Elizabethton just ran the ball down our throats,’’ Carter said. “We had to challenge our boys to respond, and they did.’’

Phillips’ 46-yard kickoff return set the Rebels in motion. He scored moments later on a 30-yard run.

Phillips really unloaded in the second quarter, keeping for a 6-yard TD run and pitching scoring passes of 30 and 22 yards, respectively, to Martin and Jeffers. As the first half closed, South place-kicker Jordan Willingham got his first field goal of the year — a 30-yarder.

South capitalized on three fumbles in the last seven minutes of the half. Clint Phillips claimed the first at midfield, Ty Garvin jumped on one at the Rebels’ 35-yard line and Michael Acero recovered the other at Elizabethton’s 25.

Thus, in a span of eight minutes, South put up 24 points for a 31-14 halftime lead.

Fletcher scored twice in the second half — on runs of 27 and 20 yards. Brad Shanks added an 11-yard TD run and Kitzmiller returned a blocked punt 3 yards for a TD. Ryan Halverson blocked the punt.

Kitzmiller had four catches for 60 yards, Martin three for 48, Johnson two for 28 and Jeffers one for 22.

Clint Phillips, Spencer Sandidge, Derrick Fisher and Chris Collins played exceptional defense for South.

“We knew we had to run the ball to keep South’s offense off the field,’’ Elizabethton coach Shawn Witten said. “Obviously, it wasn’t enough. We gave it all we had and ran out of gas.

“We gave South the ball three times on turnovers in the first half, resulting in 17 points. You can’t give a team like that three extra possessions. Our program isn’t there yet, but one day we’re going to be putting points up like that.’’

If Tennessee High beats Sullivan Central Friday, the Vikings and South will be meeting with identical 8-1, 6-0 records. South, by winning, could land its third straight MLC championship.

Witten’s brother Jason, the Dallas Cowboys’ starting tight end, attended the game and attracted a mob of autograph seekers. More than 100 fans cornered him in front of the fieldhouse during the first half.

This is a bye week for the Cowboys and Witten will be honored at Knoxville Saturday during the Tennessee-South Carolina game
Kingsport Times-News
P.O Box 479
701 Lynn Garden Drive
Kingsport, TN

Pirates look to end Odessa jinx in district playoffs

Pirates look to end Odessa jinx in district playoffs
By Chris Bowie // Sports Editor //
Published: Thursday, October 25, 2007 12:37 PM CDT

The Boonville Pirates football team will attempt to end the Odessa jinx tomorrow night in the second round of the Class 3 District 14 playoffs at the BHS Sports Complex starting at 7 p.m.

While the Pirates took it on the chin last week against the Richmond Spartans 15-14, the Bulldogs defeated the Chillicothe Hornets by a score of 39-14 to improve to 6-2 overall and 1-0 in the district.

Nonetheless, Odessa coach Mark Bliss said his team can't look past Boonville.

“We control our own destiny,” Bliss said. “Last year we were 0-1after the first game so I think our kids know its a twofold process in that we are playing our second district game and a conference game as well. It's important that we try to build on that.”

In the game last week against Chillicothe, Coach Bliss said it was a battle while playing the Hornets to a 14-14 tie at the half. Meanwhile, after putting up eight points in the third quarter to make it 22-14, Odessa came back and tacked on two more scores in the fourth quarter to win by 25.

Bliss said it's kind of a reverse of last year as Chillicothe beat Odessa 20-19 with seven seconds left on a 36-yard field goal.

As for the game tomorrow night, Bliss said Boonville will probably be the biggest team on their schedule this season.

“We know Boonville has enough talent that on any given night, they could beat anybody,” Bliss said. “The key for us defensively is that we have to make sure we keep their speed in check. As for their defense, I know they are predominantly 4-3 again with big kids on the line. We are going to have to come off the ball and sustain our blocks. In the game last week against Chillicothe I was happy with the way the team played.”

In the game last week against Chillicothe, Conrad Hooper led all rushers for Odessa with 31 carries for 204 yards while Austin Harvey, another senior running back, had 17 carries for 169 yards.

Quarterback Ryan Becker, meanwhile, rushed eight times for 36 yards and completed 2 of 6 passes for 68 yards.

Meanwhile, on the defensive side of the ball, Jacob Harris, Tyler Jarvis and Adam Whited each had seven tackles.

Of course Boonville head coach Brad Parsons knows his team will have their hands full against the Bulldogs.

He said offensively they run a combination of spinner backs and single wing. Parsons said Odessa also has a lot of mis-direction and are very good at running the ball.

“We have to stay home, read our keys and tackle well,” Parsons said. “They will run 90 percent of the time and their running back (Conrad Hooper) is pretty good. Ryan Becker will also throw it some and is awful good at mis-direction. As for Odessa's defense, they run a 4-4 but they are also big, aggressive and they tackle well. The key for us is that we have to maintain our blocks and get a push up front. They have two defensive tackles that are good and their line overall is excellent. Their linebackers are also big and tackle well, and their defensive backs seem to keep everything in front of them.”

As for the game last week against Richmond, Parsons said the kids played with a lot of intensity and fire and did a lot of things right. “They rebounded from a poor performance from the week before and played with a lot of heart,” Parsons said. “Even though we are 0-1 in the district we just have to play our game and improve and see where it goes from there. It puts our backs against the wall and we can't lose another game if we want to win the district. As far as our overall record at 2-6, we have had a lot of ups and down and peaks and valleys. Now we have to respond to those. The kids throughout the season have responded well and it has made them better players because of that. We want to play well and prove to everybody that we have improved from Game 1 to Game 9.”

As far as defending the mis-direction, Parsons said you can't key on one person. He said it's pretty hard to simulate it in practice because it is something you don't see very much.

Parsons said special teams could also play a role in the game on Friday. He said it could set up field position and change momentum.

As far as season totals, opponents have outscored Boonville 192-121 and have picked up 104 first downs compared to 73 for the Pirates.

However, Boonville has out-rushed its opponents 1,605-1,447 while opponents have out-gained the Pirates through the air 907-455. Add it up and for the season, opponents have 2,354 yards compared to 2,060 yards for Boonville.

As far as individual totals after eight games, sophomore running back Robert Callaway has 135 carries for 796 yards and four touchdowns.

Junior quarterback Jesse Monk, meanwhile, has completed 26 of 60 passes for 391 yards with four touchdowns and five interceptions.

Senior Cody McFatrich is the leading receiver for Boonville with 13 catches for 211 yards and two touchdowns.

As for the defensive side of the ball, junior linebacker Anthony Ralph has 43 solo stops, 44 assisted tackles, three tackles for loss and one sack. Junior defensive end Corey Jones, meanwhile, has 37 solo stops, 21 assisted tackles, seven sacks and four tackles for losses.
Boonville Daily News -- 412 E. High Street -- Boonville, Mo. 65233

Call Him the New Conduit for Giles

Call him the new conduit for Giles
With its potent single wing offense, the Spartans are averaging 35.7 points per game.
Ray Cox

PEARISBURG -- Picture an athlete of all-around ability.

This athlete has good speed. He has routinely won most of the footraces he has been in since first grade. He has a strong right arm, so strong that his baseball coach has stationed him in center field, a position that also requires above-average speed.

He's quick -- so quick that he has learned to sidestep and elude those who try to slow or stop him.

Picture a young man strong of both body and mind, the kind who's up for a challenge and not dismayed by setback.

There you have it. Before you stands Sheldon Douthat, Giles High School tailback, the conduit through which the potent Spartans offense must pass.

Douthat is a senior who entered the season as a possible heir to a long tradition of memorable Giles single wing offense tailbacks. By the third game of the season, he had outpaced the competition and earned the starter's job.

Spartans coach Steve Ragsdale knew Douthat had measured up to a high standard.

"When you're talking about replacing guys such as Ricky Cook and Nathan Tanner, you're talking about replacing some pretty darned good football players," Ragsdale said.

Cook, a 2006 graduate, and Tanner, who graduated this year, were the last two tailbacks to lead Giles to a state Group A Division 2 championship game. Giles won the 2006 crown and was runner-up last year.

Douthat never started until this year, but that is not to say he was inexperienced. As the powerful Spartans were blowing out opponent after opponent last year, reserves such as Douthat had plenty of opportunities to be sent into action in order to gain experience.

Consider that a continuation of his football education.

"I've been playing tailback off and on ever since I've been in the program," the 5-foot-11, 170-pound Douthat said.

Throw in some time at end when he was on the junior varsity team and regular deployments at defensive halfback and you have the makings of a complete football player.

Giles has lots of guys who can run the football -- Hunter Williams, Gavin Lee, Mario Jones, Cody Journell -- and Douthat certainly can do that, too. In the end, what separated him from the rest was his throwing ability.

"In the single wing, we have to have a tailback who can throw," Ragsdale said. "Sheldon is a very good passer."

Douthat got off to a rough start this year. In the 46-43 six-overtime thriller of a win over Blacksburg in the season opener, Douthat was slowed by cramps and was out of the lineup when Lee scored the winning touchdown.

The next week against Christiansburg, Douthat hurt his back. Nevertheless, by the third game against Narrows, he had been installed as the first string tailback.

"It's good to know the coach has confidence in me," he said. "I don't mind sharing the position if it helps the team, though."

One hidden benefit of being the first team tailback is that there is less to learn. Everybody else in the backfield has to know how to play two positions, whether that be tailback and fullback or fullback and wingback or whatever.

Interestingly, none of the current crop of backs had varsity starting experience coming into the season. That hasn't seemed to slow the Spartans much. With Floyd County arriving Friday night for what figures to be the Three Rivers District showdown of the year, Giles has averaged 35.7 points per game.

That's what athletic ability and a plan can do for you.

Warrick Dunn & The Single-Wing would Serve as the Emergency Offense

Warrick Dunn & The Single-Wing would Serve as the Emergency Offense

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Byron Leftwich underwent surgery on his right ankle Wednesday and will be out three to four weeks, giving Joey Harrington another chance as the starter.

In his first start for the Falcons, Leftwich sustained a high ankle sprain against New Orleans in a 22-16 loss Sunday.

The surgical procedure will help speed the recovery process, coach Bobby Petrino said.

"He had a procedure done this morning that is a very aggressive procedure,'' Petrino said after practice. "They actually go in and put a couple screws in there and it helps it heal faster.''

Offensive tackle Todd Weiner underwent the same operation a couple of weeks ago.

"A lot of hockey players are doing it now,'' Petrino said. "It's supposed to increase the healing and hopefully he'll be back in three to four weeks. He says two, but the doctors say three to four.''

The Falcons (1-6) are off this week. Leftwich is likely to miss at least three games but could return for a Thanksgiving night contest against Indianapolis.

"He wanted to get back on the field as quick as he can,'' Petrino said.

"This is a new, aggressive procedure that has worked very well.''

In the meantime, Harrington reclaims his job as the No. 1 quarterback.

He started Atlanta's first six games and took over against the Saints when Leftwich was hurt on the first series of the second half.

Chris Redman is the only other quarterback on the roster. Petrino said Warrick Dunn would serve as the emergency quarterback while Leftwich recovers.

"We would go back to the old single wing,'' Petrino quipped. "That wouldn't be a lot of fun.''

Harrington, who already lost starting jobs in Detroit and Miami, gets another opportunity to score points with a coaching staff that had planned to go with Leftwich the rest of the season.

"It's not going to change how I get ready during the week,'' Harrington said. "But it does change the mentality on game day. There's no getting around that.''
Charleston Daily Mail,
1001 Virginia St. E.,
Charleston, WV

Lake Michigan Catholic In Playoffs

Lake Michigan Catholic at Cassopolis

The No. 5 ranked Rangers (8-1) must figure a way to contain a unique Lakers (7-2) offense in this Division 7 opening round playoff game.

"They run a single-wing offense and we've never seen that in person before," said Cassopolis coach Andy Hubbard. "You rarely see it. In that offense their are three backs and a diagonal line. The ball is snapped to one of the three running backs."

It's a new wrinkle for a Cassopolis defense that has struggled in recent weeks. The Rangers gave up 87 points in their last two games against Coloma and Edwardsburg.

"I really felt like we started out the season pretty good on defense," Hubbard said. "It was a strong point even more so than last season. The problem was that we were trying to figure out what teams were doing instead of just attacking. I think we do better when we're aggressive."

Lake Michigan Catholic will also be challenged defensively. Cassopolis is averaging 347 yards a game on the ground with sophomore DaShaun Curtis leading the way with 1,338 yards rushing on 113 carries with 23 touchdowns.

"The biggest thing is their team speed," said LMC coach Jerome Learman.

Lakers running back Vinnie Hipskind has rushed for over 900 yards with 10 touchdowns

Editors Note: Congratulations to Coach Jerome Learman and to his Lakers!

Addison looks to avenge loss

Addison looks to avenge loss

Thursday, October 25, 2007 9:00 AM EDT

Prep Football: The Addison High School football team earned the Cascades Conference title this season, finishing 6-1 in the league on its way to its ninth straight playoff appearance.

By Marc Townsend

Daily Telegram Assistant Sports Editor

HANOVER — The Addison High School football team earned the Cascades Conference title this season, finishing 6-1 in the league on its way to its ninth straight playoff appearance.

The Panthers (6-3) will now have a chance to avenge their lone league loss as they take on Hanover-Horton (7-2) in the first round of the Division 6 playoffs at 7 p.m. tomorrow.

Hanover-Horton defeated Addison 28-26 in the fourth game of the season, dropping the Panthers to 2-2 before they ran off four straight wins to qualify for the playoffs.

“We know them pretty well,” Addison coach Mark Beougher said. “We know what they run and they know what we run.”

According to Beougher, the Comets run a single-wing offense most of the time, which is centered around deception.

The Panthers may have an advantage, as its most recent opponent, Hudson, also runs a deception offense.

“I think that it will help when they go to the single-wing,” Beougher said. “It will help because Hudson does such a good job at it. Our defense played well in that game (a 12-0 loss), but we couldn’t put any points on the board.”

For Addison, the offense runs through running back Jaron Butts, who has 1,226 yards in nine games this season, and has scored 22 touchdowns.

According to Beougher, though, the key to success in the playoffs will be to cut down on turnovers and penalties, which hurt the Panthers in the Week 9 loss against Hudson.

“Turnovers or penalties seemed to kill every one of our drives in that game,” Beougher said. “It’s hard to put together a drive when you are getting 10 and 15 yard penalties.”

Beougher believes that there are positives about entering this playoff contest having lost to Hanover-Horton previously.

“You always want to win every game, but if you are going to play a team in the playoffs that you have played before, you’d almost rather be on this side,” Beougher said. “It’s tough to beat a team twice in the same season.

“Another big thing is that we know we can play with them. Sometimes in the playoffs you go up against a team that is just better than you — more athletic, more talented, just better. In this case, though, we know that we can play with these guys.”

The winner of this game will take on the winner of Albion (6-3) and top-seeded Leslie (7-2), which meet up in the other semifinal.

Addison has won its first-round playoff game five consecutive years, including last year when it defeated Clinton 14-8 to improve its record to 10-0 after a perfect regular season.

The Panthers dropped a 10-7 game against Olivet in the second round.

The Daily Telegram DAILY :: 133 N. Winter St., Adrian, MI 49221

The Offense That Refuses to Die

I wanted to post this GREAT Single-Wing Video:

Read the great article that is presented with this video at:

Team In Video:
Baboquivari High School
Sells, AZ
Head Coach Jeff Pichotta


State Champions: Eagle River Panthers JP

State Champions -- Eagle River Panthers JP
October 25, 2007
Single-Wing Sentinel
Dan Spain

There was no snow for the State Championship game in Anchorage, like last year. But the Panthers snowballed it into the Championship, undefeated.

After plowing over the South Anchorage Jaguars, in the semi-finals 20 to 6, the Panthers went on to play the Anchorage Bucs in the Championship.

Up to the point, the Bucs had only had one loss, oh by the way it was to the Panthers. Eagle River Panthers JP's rushing attack and strong defense won the State Championship, by defeating the bucs again 25 to 13.

Congratulations to the 2007 Alaska State Champions


Editors Note: Congratulations to Eagle River Panthers JP and the entire Eagle River Panthers Organization. Here's a 05 promo video, that would make any organization proud

07 Highlight:

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Theodhosi eyes a school rushing record

Running back Alex Theodhosi eyes a school rushing record
New Hampshire Union Leader Sports
Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2007

LONDONDERRY – He has long since shed the label of "worst-kept secret" in Division I high school football.

In fact, Alex Theodhosi isn't a secret of any kind any longer.

Theodhosi's transformation into a well-known workhorse is the result of a likely record-setting campaign carrying the football for Londonderry High. The highlight-reel running back has undoubtedly become the main focus of opponents' defensive film sessions.

"I don't think there's any secret he's going to get the ball," Londonderry head coach Tom Sawyer said of his 5-foot-11, 205-pound playmaker who's on pace to shatter the program's single-season rushing record.

In eight games -- a 6-2 start for Londonderry (5-2 D-I) -- Theodhosi has rushed for 1,347 yards and 19 touchdowns on 171 carries (7.9 yards per carry). With regular-season road games at Nashua South and D-II Dover remaining, Theodhosi is 93 yards shy of the school record. Steve Miller rushed for 1,440 yards in 1999, Sawyer said.

"I never really expected coming into the season to get the ball (this much)," Theodhosi said. "Last year I may have had 100 carries for 580 yards. I had more than that in the first four games (106 carries for 778 yards). It's been great. But it's always 'Team-everything'. I couldn't do it without my team."

Sawyer insisted the credit Theodhosi gives his teammates, particularly the offensive linemen for opening big holes, is sincere. Yet for all the attention Theodhosi attempts to deflect, he can't completely avoid the spotlight.

Fleet of foot -- Theodhosi ran a sub-4.60 (4.58 seconds) in the 40-yard dash, according to Sawyer -- the senior bulked up considerably for the '07 season. A two-sport star in football and track, Theodhosi can bench press 320 pounds.

But the 17-year-old has two athletic achievements on his resume that best explain why he is an effective running back. Theodhosi has a 34-inch vertical jump. He also has a broad jump of 9 feet, 11 inches. Translation: it's all about leg power.

Along with speed and strength, Theodhosi is known for his exceptional endurance. It's another reason he excels in Londonderry's "Single Wing" offense where the ball is snapped directly to the runner; a quarterback doesn't line up under center.

The results have been astounding.

Theodhosi ran for 200+ yards in three of Londonderry's first four games. He gashed Manchester Central (25 carries, 208 yards, TD), Salem (42-228, four TDs) and Manchester Memorial (25-271, four TDs), all Lancer victories.

But his biggest single-game performance to date came last Friday at Lancer Park. Pouring rain and a slick surface couldn't slow "Theo," who rushed for 340 yards and five TDs on 33 carries (10.3 YPC). Londonderry leveled Concord, 47-13.

"He'd rather run over you than run around you," said Sawyer, coaching his 28th and final season at Londonderry. "I'd have to rank him as punishing a runner as we've ever had. He's up there in the top two or three (overall), that's for sure."

Turns out Theodhosi hits the books as hard as he hits would-be tacklers. He is ranked 37 of 474 students in his class. He earned a cumulative grade-point average of 4.019 from his freshman through junior years. His GPA this year is currently 4.45.

Those numbers make Theodhosi an appealing college student-athlete. Dartmouth and Bowdoin are among the schools expressing interest, Sawyer said.

"He is a kid that always asks a lot of questions," Sawyer said. "He's a thinker. We try to tell him, 'Don't be a thinker (on the field). Just go out and play.' Sometimes he thinks too much about his (football) assignments."

Theodhosi -- who first played football as a seventh-grader but didn't fully commit to the sport until his sophomore year -- said overthinking stems from a fear of failure. As a sophomore and junior, he routinely carried a pencil and paper on the practice field. He was always prepared to take notes, Sawyer said with a laugh.

However, Theodhosi said his head coach wasn't laughing during the team's annual preseason trip to Maine. Trying to survive double sessions in intense heat, Theodhosi admitted he was reluctant to aggressively hit holes between the tackles.

"Coach actually took me out because ... I would dance too much (at the line of scrimmage) instead of going straight ahead," Theodhosi said. "I think he was just trying to get me upset. In doing that, he helped me get better."

In turn, Theodhosi & Co. are legitimate threats to claim the program's first state title since 1998. Londonderry last played for the championship in 2001.

"The question we had was 'Is he going to be able to take that kind of punishment and run up inside the tackles?'" Sawyer said. "He's shown he can do it. ... He's sending me off with a good show."

Strange rule probably has stranger origins

Strange rule probably has stranger origins
(Tue, Oct/23/2007)

At first, everything seemed so certain. The football skidded past Bears quarterback Brian Griese on a bad snap by center Olin Kreutz, and there was Eagles safety Sean Considine swooping in to scoop up the ball and take it for a tie-breaking touchdown in the fourth quarter Sunday. The Eagles would beat the Bears. Everything seemed so certain.

Then it wasn't. Then referee Ed Hochuli was blowing his whistle to stop play, and Considine was slowing down, and everyone at Lincoln Financial Field, from the press box to the soft pretzel stand, was wondering what was going on and why the Eagles' offense wasn't heading on to the field. Eventually, Hochuli provided the answer: Because the quarterback was under center and never touched the ball, by rule the ball is dead, and the offense is penalized five yards for a false start.

Needless to say, Hochuli's answer was unsatisfactory to the 67,806 at Lincoln Financial Field, especially once the Bears scored with nine seconds left to win, 19-16.

“That's been an issue of the competition committee, or something that's been discussed in years past,” Eagles coach Andy Reid said yesterday when asked about the obscure rule. “Again, that's a tough one to swallow, but that's the rule.”

That the rule exists, no one can dispute. Pardon the Joe Friday-style lingo, but Rule 7, Section 3, Article 4 of the NFL Rulebook states: “Any extension of hands by a player under center as if to receive the snap is a false start unless, while under center, he receives the snap.” Since the ball never touched Griese's hands, he never received the snap. Hence, no fumble.

(That said, judging from his reaction to Hochuli's call on Comcast SportsNet's “Eagles Post Game Live,” Governor Ed Rendell might be pushing a resolution through the General Assembly declaring that Pennsylvania does not recognize Rule 7, Section 3, Article 4 of the NFL Rulebook as being “fair and just to our Commonwealth's most treasured football team.” Don't laugh: The state House last week passed a resolution recognizing Oct. 16, 2007, as “National Feral Cat Day.” An NFC wild-card berth is just as important, no?)

Really, the more interesting question is why the rule exists in the first place. Bob Carroll, the executive director of the Professional Football Researchers Association, speculated yesterday that the rule's origins trace back to the early days of the NFL, when teams employed more ostentatious and intricate pre-snap shifting and center-quarterback sleight of hand was more prevalent.

“Back when all the teams played the single wing or Notre Dame shift, unexpected snaps weren't a problem,” Carroll wrote in an e-mail. “However, once the modern T-formation became popular, the center simply lifted the ball and handed it to the quarterback. If the QB wasn't ready, the center would either plop the ball a few feet into the backfield or, more likely, crouch there with the ball still in his hands. Either way, some offensive linemen are going to move, and some defenders may be drawn off-sides.

“Rather than try to sort out the difference between the plopped ball (which might have been treated as a fumble) and the center holding the ball (a definite false start), my guess is they simply made the rule that when the ball doesn't get to the quarterback, it's a false start.”

As an example of the rule's original intent, Carroll cited a strange moment in the NFL's first championship game, a 23-21 New York Giants victory over the Bears in 1933.

Positioned at the end of the offensive line so he was eligible as a receiver, Giants center Mel Hein snapped the ball to quarterback Harry Newman, who then slipped the ball back to Hein before faking a handoff and pretending to trip.

The Giants' plan was to have Hein hide the ball and walk down the field for a touchdown.

“He might have gone all the way, but after a few yards he became excited and began to run,” Carroll wrote. “That attracted the defense, and they dropped him after a modest gain.”

It's a shame for the Eagles that the rule still exists. Not only did it prevent Considine from scoring a game-changing touchdown Sunday, but having Jamaal Jackson waddle over the goal line with the ball stuffed under his jersey is certainly a more creative option than anything else they've tried in the red zone this season.

“Their linemen were convinced I had the ball, and several of them landed on top of me,” Newman once said, according to his New York Times obituary from May 4, 2000. “George Musso, who was about 270 pounds, got this very puzzled look and said, "Where's the ball?' I said, "Next time, you want to see me do some card tricks?' ''

Mike Sielski is the sports columnist for Calkins Media. E-mail him at

Article's URL:

Monday, October 22, 2007

Single-Wing Team Juneau-Douglas Captures State Championship

Single-Wing Team Juneau-Douglas Captures State Championship

JDHS Football Coaches Experience Sweet Relief
Bears win two state titles in three years

The Juneau-Douglas High School football team swelled with elation after capturing its second large-schools football championship Saturday with a 23-13 win over Palmer in Anchorage.
Relief, especially for the coaches, also bubbled to the emotional surface.

After all, it would've been a pretty big downer to win 10 straight contests only to fall in the biggest one of the year.

For offensive coordinator Rich Sjoroos, the pressure started early.

"The pressure, I think, from a coaching standpoint, started hitting in the playoffs," he said. "You are the top seed, you should be able to take care of business because you know if you stumble once, you're done. Mostly, I felt more pressure in the Colony (playoff) game. It was the first time our backs were against the wall a bit and you don't know how the kids would respond in a playoff situation."

As it turned out, Sjoroos didn't have to worry too much. Juneau-Douglas exploded to a 33-0 quarterfinal win.

In three playoff games, JDHS outscored its opponents 87-27.

"When we took the field in pre-game for Colony, I was like, 'This team will be just fine,'" Sjoroos said. "In the room and on the field, everyone had a different air about them. From the moment we were in the playoffs and through three weeks of practice, the intensity was there, the determination was there."

"The state championship felt a little different than the last one (in 2005) and I felt just a lot more relief after winning this one," JDHS defensive coordinator Eddie Brakes said. "We had everything to lose and didn't realize it until after the game. The kids went out there and did it."

In 2005, JDHS obliterated its first seven opponents but lost to Pasco, Wash., 48-7 in the regular-season finale. The Crimson Bears went on to win their first state title.

"The truth is getting our butts kicked by Pasco may have relieved some of that pressure of not having that perfect record," Brakes said. "Playing a team that out-manned and out-executed you and you had to play above yourself kept us hungry. This year was different where we had that spotless record."

Now the only pressure anyone with the Crimson Bears football team must deal with is making sure their championship ring fits.


While Juneau-Douglas senior center/defensive tackle Faifo Levale couldn't physically participate in Saturday's title game, he played a significant role in the win.

Forced to serve a one-game suspension after being ejected during the semifinal win over South Anchorage, Levale kept his team loose and focused in preparation for Palmer. He practiced with the Crimson Bears and gave a pre-game speech prior to Saturday's final.

Despite the circumstances, Levale provided senior leadership to the program he's given four years of hard work.

"Faifo was not in the ballgame, but mentally he was there with us on the ball field," Brakes said. "He was on the sidelines providing leadership, keeping everyone together. He had a great speech where he said, 'We made it here as a team, not because of me. Let's go out there and win the title and I'm with you.'"

Levale deserves a tremendous amount of credit for handling a difficult situation in a positive manner.

He also received plenty of support. Many posters on popular Alaska football Web site commended Levale's sportsmanship throughout the season.

His cousin, sophomore lineman Lawrence Fenumiai, wore Levale's No. 52 on Saturday and played with passion.

"I thought Lawrence wearing Faifo's number was a good tribute," Sjoroos said. "He got more pumped up."


Another perk of having an undefeated season and a state title is spots on the Alaska State Football Coaches Association All-State team.

The coaches voted JDHS wide receiver Alex Fagerstrom as the state's offensive player of the year and middle linebacker Donovan Wilson as the defensive player of the year.

Brakes was voted the state's assistant coach of the year.

Fagerstrom posted 24 receptions, 587 receiving yards and nine touchdowns this season. He also played fullback, slotback and running back in the offense. Also, Fagerstrom ran Juneau's successful single-wing offensive package.

Most importantly, however, was his ability to draw the attention of opposing defense. Whenever Fagerstrom received two or three defenders, that meant it was easier for running back Silver Maake to run and for wide receiver Jesse West to get open.

"He's also the most valuable decoy in the history of the state," Sjoroos said of Fagerstrom.

Wilson proved the linchpin of Juneau-Douglas' explosive defense. His ferocity fighting through blocks, instinct for the ball and ability to track down runners sideline to sideline made him invaluable.

"He was everywhere," Brakes said of Wilson's performance against Palmer. "He was laying some licks."

Maake, Fagerstrom and Wilson were named to the first-team offense while defensive end Zach Heppner, defensive tackle Phil Moser, defensive back Lincoln Maka and Wilson made first-team All-State defense.

Levale, Fenumiai and Jake "Texas" Nelson all made the All-State second team as offensive lineman while linebacker Chance Galletes and Fagerstrom were voted second-team defense.

Dominic Smith made second-team kicker while Galletes was second-team long snapper.


If most Alaska prep football fans had their wish, they'd probably like to extend the season just one more week so Juneau-Douglas could play undefeated small-school state champions Soldotna.

The two-time defending small-school champion Stars (10-0) vaporized the competition in 2007. Soldotna averaged 54.1 points per game with its Wing-T rushing attack and limited opponents to 13.2 points per game.

Against like competition, Soldotna ripped Kodiak 47-27 in the state final and 70-14 on Week 6 while JDHS defeated Kodiak 41-0 on Week 1.

Both teams played North Pole with Soldotna winning 62-42 on Week 1 and JDHS winning 30-13 on Week 3.

Against Palmer, JDHS won 28-7 in Week 5 and 23-13 in the title game while the Stars topped the Moose 47-14 during Week 2.

Maybe these two teams could give the 2008 season a highly-anticipated kickoff?

• Contact sports editor Tim Nichols at 523-2228 or
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Juneau Empire - 3100 Channel Drive - Juneau, AK 99801

Single-Wing Ithaca (8-1) Host Meridian (6-3)

Single-Wing Ithaca (8-1) Host Meridian (6-3)

Division 6, Region 2, District 1

Meridian (6-3) at Ithaca (8-1)

Laingsburg (6-3) at Clare (8-1)

Meridian's first-round opponent on Friday is very familiar to coach Paul Reid and the Mustangs in the playoffs.

Meridian played Ithaca in the postseason in both 2003 and 2004, going 1-1. Friday's kickoff is at 7 p.m.

"We've played them twice in playoffs, one successful and one unsuccessful," Reid said. "I was just telling the (players), everybody's 0-0. Let's lay it on the line and see what you've got."

The Mustangs missed out on a share of the Jack Pine Conference title with Friday's 14-13 loss at Clare. But Reid is pleased with how his team is playing.

"I like how they're playing. Even though we're coming off a loss, the slate's clean," he said.

Reid said Ithaca, coached by Terry Hessbrook, runs an offense that's a variation of the single wing.

"They're about the only team around that runs this offense," he said. "They'll be in shotgun formation with four wide receivers. I am anxious to see film on them."

Ithaca is ranked seventh in Division 6 and has lost only to undefeated and second-ranked St. Charles. The Yellowjackets beat one playoff team in Merrill.

If the Mustangs beat Ithaca, they could get another shot at top seed Clare, which has won eight in a row and hosts Laingsburg on Friday at 7 p.m.

Tickets for the Meridian-Ithaca game are on sale starting Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Meridian main office. Tickets are $5.


Midland Daily News - 124 South McDonald Street - Midland, MI 48640

Okemos: A Wing and Playoff

A Wing and Playoff
Okemos Qualify For Playoff

Good news travels fast and far -- even into the Upper Peninsula.

Before midnight Friday, the e-mail from Menominee had arrived in Okemos, only a few hours after Okemos knocked off Haslett, 21-7.

Menominee coach Ken Hofer was congratulating Okemos coach Paul Palmer for doing what many thought was impossible -- qualify for the Division 2 state playoffs to face Farmington Hills Harrison in the first round.

It was only a year ago that Okemos scored just 70 points in a disappointing 2-7 season, and Palmer was looking for something to energize his program. He settled on the single-wing.

The single-wing basically eliminates the quarterback spot because the ball is snapped directly to a running back. The offense essentially gives you an extra blocker at the point of attack.

No one in the universe -- or at least Michigan -- knows the single-wing better than Hofer, who has used it for decades and won last year's Division 5 state championship.

Palmer and an assistant went up to the UP last spring and spent time with Hofer and his staff and brought back what they learned and put it to use.

"For the most part, the offense gave us an element of surprise," Palmer said. "The offense gave us an opportunity to control the ball."

The single-wing grabbed most of the headlines and people overlooked the fact that the Okemos defense played considerably better than it did a year ago. The defense was sensational against Haslett, scoring one touchdown and setting up another.

"We gave up some big plays, but if you take away those big plays, we were in the game against Holt and in the game against Everett," Palmer said. "The defense has definitely played well and the probably had their best performance against Haslett."

That performance gave Okemos its sixth win and its first state playoff berth since 1999.

Contact MICK MCCABE at 313-223-4744 or


Detroit Free Press - 600 W. Fort - Detroit, MI 48226

Sunday, October 21, 2007

1st Year Semi-Pro Single-Wing Team in Playoffs

1st Year Semi-Pro Single-Wing Team in Playoffs
October 15th

MENOMINEE — The Menominee Timberjacks rolled into the Wisconsin State Football League playoffs with a 26-14 win over a winless but determined Saukville Demons team Saturday night.
The Timberjacks (7-3) will play the Oostburg Rebels (7-3) in their firstround playoff Saturday at 6 p.m. at Oostburg.

The Demons (0-10) shut down the Timberjacks’ ground game Saturday night, but the T-Jacks went to the air for 262 yards and three touchdowns. Dan Ries completed 9 of 13 passes for 198 yards and two TDs, while Aric Chaltry connected on three of seven passes for 64 yards and a touchdown.

“We didn’t have a lot of success running the football, but we threw the ball very effectively,” said coach Joe Plautz.

Jim Ahrndt, who had a stellar game on both sides of the line, pulled in a 30- yard scoring pass from Ries in the first quarter. Ries found Joel Wortner for a 31-yard TD pass in the second period.

The Timberjacks countered the first Demons’ score with a 40-yard scoring bomb from Chaltry to Randy Hohender. Ries ran in the 2-point conversion to hike the lead to 20-8 in the third period.

Wortner snared a long pass to set up the Timberjacks at the 3 and Ed Demeuse bulled it in from the 1 to close the Timberjacks scoring.

Saukville added their second TD in the last minute.

“It was a sloppy and ugly win,” said Plautz. “I give (Saukville) a lot of credit. They came with 15 guys and played 60 minutes of hard-nosed football.”

Four unsportsmanlike conduct flags drew the ire of the M&M coach. “That’s something I’m very disappointed in,” he said.

Ahrndt had 15 tackles and seven solos, catches of 33, 24 and 30 yards, and he also returned an onside kick to the Saukville 5. He entered the game with a team-high 80 tackles.

“Jimmy played a great game,” said Plautz. “He’s having a heck of a year for us.”

Wortner caught six passes for 89 yards. Chaltry led the rushing game with nine carries for 48 yards. Tom Emmes collected 12 tackles, Demeuse had seven, Wortner had a sack, three tackles and he broke up a pass, and Ryan Wortner had six tackles and he broke up a pass.

The Timberjacks split with Oostburg in the regular season, winning at Oostburg and losing at Spies Field.

“There’s nothing fancy about them, they’re a smashmouth football team,” said Plautz. “We definitely have a tall task. Our defense has hung with every team we’ve played. We’re not on the map yet. Other teams say we’re a good first-year team. We know we’re better than that.”