Thursday, October 15, 2009

There is nothing new about football's formation-du-jour: the Wildcat.

Jim Rapier, The Times-Picayune, October 15, 2009 12:28 a.m.

At some point, you always come back to the basics.

No matter how people may try to spin it, there is nothing new about football's formation-du-jour: the Wildcat.

If you have watched a few games in the past few seasons, you've likely seen teams line their best offensive playmaker (running back/receiver) up where the quarterback would stand in shotgun formation. The quarterback splits wide in the formation, and the player in the backfield takes a shotgun snap and can run, handoff or pass. Most teams seem to favor running out of it.

It's clever and unique-looking and effective, but all the Wildcat formation has done is really put football in a time warp -- back to the basics, back to its roots.

Welcome to single-wing football, which was invented by Pop Warner in the early 1900s.

The offense consisted of an unbalanced seven-man offensive line and three players -- fullback, tailback, quarterback -- lined up in the backfield and a wingback off the strong side end. Plays began with a shotgun snap to the tailback, fullback or quarterback, and each one had options to run, handoff, pitch or pass. There was misdirection, trap-blocking, sweeps, and option reads.

Sound familiar? Ask Ehret Coach Billy North, whose team used the Wildcat formation and faced it in last week's game against Chalmette.

"It's the single-wing, " North said after the game. "It's been around for like 50 years. It isn't some new invention. We have great player in (running back) Anthony Garrison, and we're sure to put the ball in his hands when he takes the direct snap."

So, the next time you see the Wildcat formation or even the spread-option offense -- more than likely at this week's prep games -- enjoy your trip through time and don't forget to thank Pop Warner.
New Orleans, LA

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