Saturday, October 10, 2009

Single Wing the building block for Wildcat system

Telegram Correspondent

Sunday, October 04, 2009

There’s one thing in football, college and pro, that makes me gag, and it’s hearing someone refer to the “Wildcat.”

That is supposedly the newest creation on the offensive side of the ball.

The always over-the-top Mike Tirico on Monday Night Football gushed unabashedly, intimating the “Wildcat” was the most innovative imaginative aspect in football in recent memory.

Folks, the “Wildcat” has been around for more than a century.

It probably deserves the title as football’s first offense.

It has, however, before last season, been referred to as the Single Wing.

Jim Thorpe was a Single Wing tailback for the Carlisle Indians nearly 100 years ago.

The essence of the Single Wing is you put your best runner, usually not your quarterback, and have him take a direct snap.

It’s based on raw power.

Nobody has lined up strictly like the old Single Wing, but there’s a close facsimile. Some teams split the player who would be the wingback. The ends both can be split.

We ran the Single Wing untra-successfully for two years in grammar school when I attended St. Charles Borromeo in suburban Philadelphia.

I was the fullback in the formation, standing a yard in front of tailback Larry Sullivan. I could be standing to his right or left depending on the formation called, which could be as simple as “Off-tackle smash left.”

Our quarterback Doug DeCarlo called the plays. He usually was situated as close to the line of scrimmage as conventional quarterbacks are, but usually in the gap between the guard and tackle.

Besides calling plays, Doug’s most important role was as a blocker.

The other person in the backfield was our wingback, Bob “Hoagie” Haggerty. The wingback always lined up one yard behind and one yard outside the end on whichever side the formation was called.

The wingback could go out for passes, block for the tailback and fullback or run the ball himself on reverses, inside and outside. There was never anything prettier in our offense than the wingback winding up with the ball on a reverse.

There was plenty of misdirection but most of all, the focus was on stuffing the ball down our opponents’ throats with power running and blocking. I could get the snap from Richie Boyle, plunge into the line and hand the ball to Doug who could then pitch it wide to Larry or hand it off to Hoagie.

The year we were in eighth grade, St. Charles went through a regular season nine-game schedule unbeaten and unscored upon. The aforementioned were aided nobly by talented players such as Warren “Butch” Winterbottom, Nick Robak, Joe “Bozo” Bozone — and the three Frannys- Gallo, Cosello and Lake.

The next time you hear someone refer to the “Wildcat,” prove how superior you are by saying out loud or to yourself, “It’s the Single Wing, stupid.”

Rocky Mount Telegram
P.O. Box 1080
Rocky Mount, NC 27802


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