Friday, June 26, 2009

Mike Rude: Sharing his secrets

Sharing his secrets
By Scott Mees, The Southern
Thursday, June 25, 2009 11:41 PM CDT
The single-wing offense isn't used much in high school football anymore, but Vienna coach Mike Rude is doing his best to see that it makes a comeback.

Rude began implementing the offense, which doesn't use a quarterback, when he was coaching Johnston City in 2002. The Indians went on to have success using the system, and that prompted Rude to make a series of DVDs for Championship Productions, a company that produces instructional videos for athletes and coaches.

"They had nothing on the single wing," Rude said. "They came from Iowa on a Sunday and we made the DVDs on installing the single-wing offense. They started selling really well and people started calling me."

Rude has spoken at clinics from coast to coast on the topic, and now has many coaches calling him to come to their school and help the coaching staff learn that offense.

Chris Stevens, head coach at New York City's Xavier Catholic High School, watched the DVDs and was intrigued at the possibilities it presented for improving his football team.

Xavier produced a 10-1 record in 2007, which included leading the state of New York in rushing. The team led the state in rushing and scoring in 2008. Stevens began using the single-wing offense in 2006.

"He's an old soul and has wisdom that you only learn through pain," Stevens said of Rude. "To sit and talk to him and listen to his tapes is amazing because everything has been tried and tested."

Rude also recently traveled to El Paso, Texas, and Las Vegas to help teams learn the old-fashioned offense. He credits his former players and coaches at Johnston City with helping him receive these opportunities.

"Those kids made it successful," Rude said. "They bought into an offense with no quarterback and made it work really well."

The single-wing offense, which uses an unbalanced line where all the linemen pull and trap, was basically abandoned in the 20th century in favor of more quarterback-friendly schemes like the spread offense.

"Parents and colleges want you to produce quarterbacks," Rude said. "Most dads want their son in the spread like the colleges run. Most colleges aren't looking for single wing tailbacks. Those are the main reasons that teams went away from it."

Rude believes teams that are smaller and quicker can excel when employing the single-wing, primarily because of the blocking schemes.

"There are very few plays where we ask a player to block a guy one on one," Rude said. "You can play lesser skilled offensive linemen who can run. But if we cannot double team their best player then we better get on the bus and go home."

Stevens and Rude have met in person to talk football several times, and Rude said Stevens has become incredibly skilled at running the offense in a short time.

"I've done well with it, but the great thing about (Rude) is he's started a new team," Stevens said. "When I'm 62 and I still can't wait until August then I'll be a happy man."

Rude and the Vienna Eagles begin their first varsity football season in August.

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