Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Bliss has single wing for Tigers

Bliss has single wing for Tigers
By Art Voellinger
Saturday, March 8, 2008 1:53 PM CST

When I first learned that Mark Bliss, the new head football coach of the Edwardsville High School Tigers, is a proponent of a single wing offense, I had to shock my memory to recall the last time I had watched a team employ that offense.

Sure enough, it was run by Chaminade High School years ago against Belleville Althoff, but even retired Crusaders Coach Glenn Schott could not put an exact year on the game.

"It was sometime in the 1970s," said Schott. "There coach was the late Don Ohlms who was renowned for running the single wing."They had two outstanding offensive linemen, ran that offense very well, and beat us," said Schott.

When I told Schott that Bliss, age 44, with a 111-34 record in 13 years as a head coach has been quoted as saying that he runs the single wing with a spread offense and no huddle, Schott sighed.

"He's going to wreak havoc," said Schott, who recalled his collegiate playing days as a linebacker at Southeast Missouri State and the single wing of Carson-Newman (Tenn.) College that featured double team blocking at the point of attack.

"He can run it with an unbalanced line, with no one under the center, and with a wing back, blocking back, fullback and tailback," said Schott.

"I remember when we played Chaminade at the (Belleville) Township Stadium, a fan yelled 'where's the quarterback?' when they lined up."

"He'll have an advantage the first couple of years because teams normally do not play against the single wing," Schott said of Bliss. "It's going to cause opponents to adjust."

According to Schott, there are several plays that can be run off the single wing, and there are variations of the formation, including what was run last season by the University of Florida and Heisman Trophy winner, quarterback Tim Tebow.

Research shows that the Pittsburgh Steelers were the last team in the National Football League to use the single wing in 1947 before converting to the more popular T-formation.

In the 1960s, Green Bay Coach Vince Lombardi was asked: "What would happen if someone came out with a single wing offense?"

"It would embarrass the hell out of us," said Lombardi.

Listed on the Internet as one of a few high school coaches in the country to use the single wing, Bliss has coached at six schools, including Las Animas, Colo., Blackwell, Okla., Palmetto Ridge (Naples, Fla.), and Derby (Kansas) High.

In his last two seasons, he was 6-4 in 2006 and 8-3 in 2007 at Odessa, Mo., High School. However, from 2001-2004, he led Conway Springs (Kansas) High to four Class 3A state titles.

A former prep All-America quarterback at Medford, Okla., Bliss played two seasons at Tulsa, Okla., before completing his bachelor's degree in physical education at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kan.

In addition to being well traveled as a coach, Bliss has experienced highs and lows.

In the early going before being part of a 62-game win streak at Conway Springs, he coached teams on a practice field that had been used for rodeos and was laden with cow chips. At Derby High, his team went winless.

At Edwardsville, as a replacement for the highly successful Tim Dougherty (132-40 in 16 seasons, including seven Southwestern Conference titles and two state Class 7A second places in 2001 and 2002), Bliss faces an enormous challenge.

While sending teams to 12 playoff appearances, Dougherty, who will move on to Lincoln Way Central in New Lenox, Ill., was a master of detail and preparation.

According to Schott, the single wing should make the challenge easier for Bliss as well as the football tradition and interest at Edwardsville.

St. Clair County Journal
#2 Executive Drive
Collinsville, IL 62234

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Single-Wing Sentinel Update!

Even during the off season the hits keep on hitting.

I put a hit counter on the site 5 1/2 months ago and in that time over 30,000+ hits.

That's a lot of intrest in the Single-Wing!

There are over 340+ articles posted.

We have 189 coaches/teams that have signed the Single-Wing Coaches Map (guestbook)We're showing that there are Coaches/Teams in 48 states, plus the District of Columbia and 6 other nations.

The six countries other than the US are: Canada, New Zealand, France, England, Germany and Austria.

The States without a coach/team showing are:
1. Delaware
2. Vermont

Have you signed? Is your state represented? If not take a second to sign below!

If you know of a team any of the States not showing a team, let me know.

Off-Season: The thought is that the articles won't be as many during the off season, but I will post as many as I come accross.

Thanks, to all for making the Sentinel a success!

Gulf Coast Offense

A Special Thanks for Darrin Hicks -- Assistant Football Coach
Delta State University
for presenting this article and suppling the video.

The Gulf Coast Offense (GCO) is a hybrid spread no-huddle offense, which allows us to control the tempo of the game while utilizing numerous styles in our attack. We have blended multiple offensive systems into what we think is the future of offensive football. The GCO has taken concepts from many styles including the R&S, wishbone option, single-wing, and others and molded them into a cohesive system that relies on deception. The GCO is willing to take what a defense is giving us and work against its strength. Our staff and myself really have checked our egos at the door, and are not willing to pound a square peg into a round hole. We go into each game with our basic game plan of running and throwing the football. In my Zen mind I believe balance is the best way to attack a defense and a defensive coordinator. The more elements you make a defense have to prepare for and play against, the more distinct an advantage your offense is allowed.

This is where the single-wing has become a huge part of our offense and our success. For years I have been based out of the four wide receivers and one back set which has been a wonderful and simple plan to attack a defense. With the evolution of defenses and the amount of so-called spread offenses, we felt we needed to add another element to our offensive attack. I went into deep study and discovered the “Yale” or “Beast” formation and immediately added it to our offensive assault, with the thought that it would add a short yardage/goal line addition to our package that we could use only when needed. Well that was the initial plan of attack. We started by utilizing two plays the wedge and sweep and practiced these throughout fall camp. It was our thought we would use this only if all other options had been utilized, such as a 4th down situation with a touchdown needed immediately. The best-laid plans change quickly and our “Elephant” package, as we call it, was utilized four times in our very first game. We scored two huge touchdowns and picked up two huge first downs. The single-wing had made its way to the Gulf Coast and was quickly becoming a monstrous factor in our success. We had a very good season at Delta State in 2007, leading our conference both in total and rushing offense. The “Elephant” package was a vital part of that success. Throughout our 10-2 conference winning campaign we used this package to score 10 touchdowns (about 25% of our total touchdowns) and pick up numerous drive-continuing first downs. What started as a package that was to be utilized once or twice the whole season became one of our staples in the short yardage/goal line situations. As we started with the wedge and sweep the package grew to have a counter as well as a play-action passing game element. Each week we wanted to force the defenses we were playing to have to prepare for a whole different animal, all the while keeping it fresh for our guys. Our players enjoyed the success of the “Elephant” package and loved it when other teams in our conference started to use variations. The success of the package has us, during the off-season, studying new ways to utilize this formation as well as other single-wing additions to help us try and keep a competitive advantage over our opponents. You can always learn in this profession and it’s amazing to me how much past football knowledge and information has been forgotten. Sometimes you have to be willing to go back to the future to discover that little thing that can take you from being good to being great.

The single-wing and its elements will continue to make its way back into college and even professional football. The advent of spread style offenses are bringing to the forefront athletic and mobile quarterbacks who is a threat by throwing and running the football. With these types of mobile quarterbacks the idea of being able to outnumber your opponents in the box will continue. The single-wing gives a great blueprint on how to attack defenses with deception and power. You are also noticing that teams without a mobile QB are utilizing these formations and plays by using other players as the direct-snap quarterback. Any time you can gain an advantage on a defense it’s a great thing. Football is constantly evolving. For every offensive innovation that comes around defenses are finding answers. The spread offenses are the vogue thing in football right now and for them to continue to be hot, coaches will need to go back in time and study the single-wing offenses and what they offer. That being said, I look for continuing evolution of spread systems to have elements of single-wing football all through them. One must embrace the past to truly understand the future. I have added some clips of our package for you to take a look at. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sweep Rules
OL: Four Point Stances
SB/LG: Outside zone combo
C/RG: Outside zone combo
RT: Outside zone combo
LT/H: Slam block combo to second level

E3: Secure EMOL edge defender
E2: Kick out block on wide edge
E1: lead blocker for QB

QB: Control the snap and follows Elephants on the edge

Wedge Rules
OL: Four point stances
SB/LG: Wedge block inside
C/RG: Wedge combo
RT/LT/H: Wedge combo inside

E1 & E2: Find first open seam and block opposite color
E3: Find first open seam and block or EMOL crashing
It is the Elephants’ job to clean any opposite color jersey

QB: Control the snap and follows Elephants

Darrin Hicks
Assistant Football Coach
Delta State University
Dhicks at deltastate dot edu


Edwardsville in state of Bliss with coach

Posted on Wed, Feb. 27, 2008
Edwardsville in state of Bliss with coach
Hands over reins of stable program


Confident he has finally landed in the right place, new Edwardsville High football coach Mark Bliss hopes his nomadic tendencies are over.

Bliss was hired by the District 7 Board of Education on Monday night, replacing Tim Dougherty. It's Bliss' fourth job in five years, following one-year stints at Palmetto Ridge High in Naples, Fla., and Derby High in Derby, Kan., followed by a two-year stay at Odessa High in Odessa, Mo.

"I know that anybody probably would have a realistic concern about that," Bliss, 44, said of his frequent job changes. "But my thing is this: Based on what I've seen and based on how everyone has treated me and my family, I can't wait to get moved in and establish our roots here.

"I've made a commitment to Mr. (Brad) Bevis (Edwardsville's athletic director) and to (assistant coach) Andre (Collins) that we're going to stick it out here and have some fun. I plan on being here for the long haul."

Stability has been one strength of the program. Dougherty, who resigned in January to become the new coach at Lincoln-Way Central High in New Lenox, was with the Tigers for 16 years. Dougherty, 51, was 132-40 and led Edwardsville to seven Southwestern Conference titles, 12 playoff appearances and runner-up finishes in Class 7A in 2001 and 2002.

"This is, without a doubt, the most excited I've ever been about taking a position as a head football coach," said Bliss, a native of Medford, Okla., who was a quarterback for two seasons at Tulsa. "Hopefully, we can build on what Tim has done here. He set a high standard. I look forward to the challenge."

Bliss' first two head-coaching jobs were in Las Animas, Colo., and Blackwell, Okla. He made his mark at Conway Springs High in Conway Springs, Kan., going 81-4 and winning four state championship in seven years. Bliss coached 10 Division I athletes and five All-Americans at Conway Springs.

In 2004, Bliss moved to Naples, Fla., to build a program from the ground up. But he spent just one year at Palmetto Ridge, finishing 5-5.

While there, Bliss became entangled in some controversy. The former athletic director at Palmetto Ridge, Mario Doria, was accused of making two illegal in-home visits to a prospective player, quarterback Derek Woods, in early 2004.

On one of those occasions, Bliss went to Woods' home with Doria. But Bliss said Tuesday that his visit came in April. By that time, Bliss said, Woods had decided to attend Palmetto Ridge and the team already was in spring practice.

"Myself and my coaching staff did not even get there until April to start preparation for spring ball," said Bliss, adding that Palmetto Ridge Principal Roy Terry already has talked to Edwardsville District 7 Superintendent Ed Hightower "to verify that I had nothing to do with anything that took place there."

Bliss left Palmetto Ridge after one season, moving to Derby, Kan., when a family member of his wife of 19 years, Jill, began experiencing health problems. Derby High finished 0-9, and Bliss moved to Odessa, Mo., where he spent the last two seasons. Odessa was 6-4 in 2006 and 8-3 in 2007.

"Odessa was a situation where I could have stayed there as long as I wanted to, but when I was approached about the job in Edwardsville, it intrigued me very deeply to where I wanted to pursue it and see where I stood with the other applicants," Bliss said.

Bliss, who turned down the head-coaching position at Carbondale High in late December, was offered the Edwardsville position Feb. 18 and immediately accepted.

Bliss runs a "single wing" offense and a 4-2-5 defense. He said his offense is complex and like no other team's in the area.

"It's all shotgun, spread and two tight-end personnel. That makes it a little unique," Bliss said. "There's a lot of deception, but it's also got the capability of being a true power offense. If you want to line up and hit somebody in the mouth, it's got that capability, too."

Ragsdale Happy With Decision to Retire

Ragsdale happy with decision to retire
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD — After 30 years and 255 wins with the Giles Spartans, Steve Ragsdale talked on Saturday about his decision to hang up his whistle for good।“This is not like it was an overnight decision,” Ragsdale said of his resignation. “Although I had not really talked to anybody other than my immediate family, this is something that I’ve been kind of contemplating and pointing towards for about the last four or five years.“Nobody really knew about this and I hadn’t totally made my mind up until just within the last week. This was my 30th year. Coming into the season I had 244 wins. So I thought, ‘Well, if I can get 250 wins in 30 seasons, those are nice round numbers and this is probably a pretty good time to get out of it.”In his 30 seasons, Ragsdale was best known for his take on the single-wing offense. Under Ragsdale, the Spartans relied on deception and cunning as much as they relied on toughness and great blocking.Ragsdale’s offense was very entertaining to watch. It was also very successful. In Ragsdale’s 30 seasons, he coached the Spartans to state championships in 1980, 1993, and 2005 and state championship appearances in 1996 and 2006.In 30 seasons, he built a team that an entire community could rally around.“I think the major thing I’ll remember is just the fun and excitement that surrounded Spartan football,” Ragsdale said. “That’s something that we’ve promoted. That’s something as a coach that I’ve promoted with our team, first and foremost, is to have fun playing. “I had fun coaching. I think Friday nights were fun for our fans, our coaches, our players, our band, our cheerleaders, everybody involved with our football program. So the phrase I would attach to it would be fun and excitement.”Ragsdale did not rule out a support role with the Spartans in the future.“It’s possible,” Ragsdale said. “I don’t think in any major way at all. I guess it kind of depends on who gets the job and I’d certainly be willing to help them out in any way I could, reasonably. “If they want me, for example, to go scout someone on Friday night for ’em I’d be more than happy to do that. You know, stuff like that. But I certainly don’t want to anticipate being involved in any kind of major capacity at all.”Ragsdale does not know yet exactly what he will do to take the place of coaching. He does want to spend more time with family. Now he will have the opportunity to do that.“I really don’t know the answer to that,” Ragsdale said. “I just kind of let time and events take care of themselves. I’m only teaching half a day. I started that this year, teaching three periods a day. “I’ve got a daughter in the eighth grade who will be involved in her high school activities and I feel like I’ll have a little more time to go watch her do whatever she’s doing. “So I don’t really know what I’ll do to tell you the truth. I’ll just kind of let time evolve and see what happens.”

The Bluefield Daily Telegraph-- 928 Bluefield Ave-- Bluefield, West Virginia


Bliss will take over EHS football program

Bliss will take over EHS football program
Bill Yarbrough
The Edwardsville Intelligencer
The search is over.

After more than a month of sifting through resumes and conducting interviews, Edwardsville High feels it has found its man.

On Monday, the District 7 Board of Education approved the recommendation of a special search committee to hire Mark Bliss as the new Edwardsville Tiger football coach, taking over for highly-successful coach and athletic director Tim Dougherty.

Brad Bevis, who was named to replace Dougherty as athletics director last month, said that the search committee was pleased by the quality of candidates that applied for the position.
"When we looked at the depth of Mark's experience, however, he stood out as the person who best fit our needs," Bevis said in a press release. "We were looking for someone who can manage the whole football program - from our coordination with the Little Tigers program to oversight of the middle schools to building upon the success of our high school program. We believe that we have found that person in Mark."

Bliss will take over for Dougherty, who guided the Tiger football program the past 16 seasons before announcing on Jan. 6 that he was leaving his athletic director and football coaching duties at EHS to take the head coaching job and an administrative position at Lincoln-Way Central.
Dougherty was 132-40 in his 16 seasons, leading Edwardsville to seven Southwestern Conference championships, 12 appearances in the playoffs and Class 7A runner-up finishes in 2001 and 2002.

Bliss, 44, knows that there are big shoes to fill at Edwardsville High.
"This is an outstanding community with an outstanding football program and I'm committed to building on the tradition of excellence that is reflected in attitudes of everyone I've met," he said. "The program's record, personnel and facilities are exceptional. I am proud to have the opportunity to live and work in such a quality community."

Bliss has had plenty of his success in his own right.

He was a prep All-American quarterback at Medford High in Oklahoma and began his college career at Tulsa before finishing at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kan.

He has 19 years experience coaching, with 13 years as a head coach, most recently at Odessa, Mo., where he guided the Bulldogs to a 6-4 record in 2006 and an 8-3 record last season and a district championship and state playoff berth. His overall coaching record is 111-34.

He began his coaching career as an assistant in Austin, Texas, before taking head coaching jobs in Las Animas, Colo., and Blackwell, Okla.

Bliss then coached at Conway Springs, Kan., where he led the Cardinals to four state championships and one semifinal appearance. The Cardinals owned a 62-game winning streak, more than 50 of which came under Bliss's leadership. It is the second longest streak in Kansas prep history. Three of his teams achieved national rankings. Overall, Bliss compiled an 81-4 record at Conway Springs.

Bliss left Conway Springs to take the head coaching job at Palmetto Ridge High in Naples, Fla., in 2004, but left after a 5-5 inaugural season, saying his family was homesick. Bliss and his wife Jill have been married for 19 years and have four daughters.

"I've told people I couldn't afford child support on four kids, so I had to come back home because my wife and girls just wanted to be back home with all their family," Bliss told the Topeka Capital-Journal in 2005. "You live and learn in life. It's one of those things where they are more important to me than any job I've ever taken, so they're always going to come first in my life, and I want to make sure that they're happy."

Following his one-year stint in Florida, Bliss returned to Kansas as coach at Derby High, where he endured a winless season before taking the job in Missouri at Odessa, a school of 724 located just east of Kansas City.

Bliss has coached 13 Division I athletes and five prep All-Americans. He runs a no huddle, spread with single wing concept offense and a 4-2-5 defense.

Away from the gridiron, Bliss said that his philosophy of life evolves around being a person who strives to be three dimensional - from a mental, physical and spiritual standpoint.

"I believe that a person has to strive to make himself better in those three areas every day in order to reach his fullest potential," he said "Teachers and coaches play an important role in guiding and shaping young people to help them attain their educational goals, so we have an obligation to influence and inspire all students to reach their true potential to set the foundation for them to have the faith and belief that they can become anything they want to be in life."
District 7 Superintendent Dr. Ed Hightower said that more than 50 applications were reviewed for the head coaching position.

The search committee screened the applications and narrowed the pool to 12. The committee then completed a second screening, which included visits to some of the applicants' hometowns. The pool was further reduced to five. All five were interviewed twice, and the committee recommended three applicants to Hightower for a final interview and selection.

Hightower credited Bevis, assistant football coach Andre Collins and assistant principal Rick Everage for their outstanding work during the application and selection process.
"These men committed many hours over a short timeframe to help bring a football coach to our community who is dedicated to continuing the tradition of excellence that Tim Dougherty brought to the District 7 football program," he said.

District 7 Board President Jim Speciale said that the key to the district's ability to hire such an outstanding coach was beginning the search process immediately after naming Bevis as athletic director.

"Brad's ability to start the process quickly allowed us to have a large pool of qualified candidates available to us," he said. "That early start coupled with the reputation of the program that Dougherty built helped us attract many excellent candidates. Bliss is an outstanding teacher and coach and we are indeed fortunate to have him join the District 7 community."

A press conference is scheduled for noon today to introduce Bliss and his family to local media and the new coach will meet with EHS coaching staff and players at the end of the school day today.

A reception introducing Bliss to parents and the football community will be conducted tonight at 6 p.m. in the EHS Commons. Refreshments and hors d'oeuvres will be available.


Edwardsville Intelligencer -- Edwardsville IL.