Saturday, August 29, 2009

Osbourn tops Forest Park

By Joe Conroy

Published: August 28, 2009

The Osbourn Eagles were looking for a strong start to their 2009 campaign to follow up their appearance in the Group AAA Division 6 state final.

Instead, they watched as both they and Forest Park piled up penalty yards in both teams’ season opener Friday, stalling the offenses after tying the game at a touchdown apiece.

The Eagles broke the deadlock in the third quarter when, with the Bruins’ punter in his own end zone, the snap hit the crossbar of the goalposts, resulting in a safety and a lead Osbourn wouldn’t surrender. The Eagles’ offense found its stride from that point and scored four more times on their way to a 37-21 win.

“It was sloppy football on both sides of the ball,” Osbourn coach Steve Schultze said. “Watching both teams’ scrimmages on film, we [both] played better in our scrimmages.

“We weren’t happy with how we won, but the bottom line is we’ll take that win, that ‘W’ to start the season. But anyone can see that we have a lot of things we need to correct.”

Aside from a 70-yard interception return by Forest Park linebacker Nate Brown in the third, not much went right for the Bruins.

Offensively, Forest Park struggled to come to the line and get a snap off before referees assessed several delay of game penalties. They also accumulated multiple illegal shift and motion infractions.

Osbourn took advantage on nearly every one, including on special teams. After Eagles running back Vidal Greene scored on a 1-yard rush in the fourth, the Bruins were called for encroachment on the ensuing point-after attempt. Osbourn opted for a two-point play instead, which was converted on Thomas Keith’s run.

Rodney “Lucky” Whitehead was all over the field, picking up rushing yards on offense and breaking up passes on defense.

“This was a hard game because I know we can play better than we did,” said Whitehead, who finished with 52 yards on the ground on six carries and 28 yards on two receptions. “We had people here watching and I didn’t like the way we came out tonight. We knew we could play better than Forest Park.”

Thomas Keith scored twice on the ground, once on a 28-yard run and again in the fourth on a 46-yard scramble. Keith also threw for a score, completing a 19-yarder to Mac Clark.

Things didn’t start off well for Osbourn, though, as Forest Park opened the game with a 94-yard opening kickoff return by Troy Tyler. That would be all the Bruins could muster in the first half.

Clarke County's single wing stymies Indians

August 28, 2009
BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. — Nostalgia doesn’t always conjure up fond memories.

Take Angelo Luvara, for example. He got blasted by a blast from the past by Clarke County (Va.).

“It was a single wing set,” said the Berkeley Springs football coach. “That set football back 100 years. It reminded me of when I was playing.”

It’s hard to say, but it would be hard to imagine that 45-0 scores were put up on the scoreboard back in 1909.

It was on Friday.

Clarke County’s offense looked in midseason form, scoring four touchdowns in the first 14 minutes en route to hanging a season-opening rout on the Indians.

“We knew they would be a good football team,” Luvara said. “They didn’t run any plays that we didn’t see before.”

That would be hard to believe, because the Eagles ran plays where it was hard to see the ball, let alone tackle the defender.

Clarke County shunned the Indians — with deception, confusion and explosion.

“I was really happy,” said Clarke County coach Chris Parker. “We ran the single wing last year out of necessity. We brought it back this year with some refinements. We have four guys in the backfield who can throw the ball. I’d be pretty confident running any offense with those guys back there.”

Clarke County used a maze of direct snaps, reverse action and multiple tosses to set up the running game while sucking the Indians’ defense up to the line of scrimmage. Then the Eagles were able to throw. It wasn’t often but it was effective and made Berkeley Springs have to respect the possibilities.

“We were a little nervous in the beginning in the secondary and with a new quarterback,” Luvara said. “We played well in the second half, but when you get beat 45-0, there isn’t much good to say.”

Clarke County rolled up 335 yards of offense, averaging 10.5 yards per play, and scored on all six of its possessions in the first half while posting all 45 points.

Running back Grant Shaw had 128 yards rushing and two touchdowns in six carries. Sam Shiley added 94 yards and two scores on 13 carries and tacked on two-point conversion runs on the Eagles’ first three scores.

“We didn’t handle their front very well,” Luvara said. “That’s pretty much the story in any football game.”

Clarke County came out of the blocks quickly. The Eagles scored on the second play after the opening kickoff on a 55-yard sweep by Shaw for an 8-0 lead in the first 1:14. After stopping Berkeley Springs on a three-and-out with aggressive defense, Shiley scored on a 41-yard run to cap a three-play, 60-yard drive for a 16-0 lead with 8:00 to go in the quarter.

Quarterback Zach Shiley scored on a 10-yard play to give the Eagles a 24-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Shaw scored on a 23-yard run and Sam Shiley added a 1-yard burst before connecting on a 40-yard scoring pass to Billy Parker to cap all the scoring in the game.

The Indians were held to 65 yards and four first downs in the first half, with two of them coming in the last 30 seconds of the half. Berkeley Springs didn’t help itself by turning the ball over four times on Zach White interceptions. Clarke County also crowded the line of scrimmage to shut down the running game.

For the record, Parker said the Eagles didn’t set football back a century, just six decades.

“The package we are using is the same system that the old Princeton and Wabash teams used 60 years ago,” Parker said. “The key thing is deception. We have the personnel to play it.”

Clarke County 45, Berkeley Springs 0
Clarke County 24 21 0 0 — 45
Berk. Springs 0 0 0 0 — 0
CC — Grant Shaw 55 run (Sam Shiley run)
CC — S. Shiley 41 run (S. Shiley run)
CC — Zach Shiley 10 run (S. Shiley run)
CC — Shaw 23 run (Connor Shendow kick)
CC — S. Shiley 1 run (Shendow kick)
CC — Billy Parker 40 pass from Z. Shiley (Shendow kick)
First downs 18 4
Rushes-yards 56-365 20-50
Passing yards 67 23
Comp-Att-Int 2-4-0 3-15-4
Total offense 60-432 35-73
Punts-avg. 1-36 5-36
Penalties-yards 5-43 1-5
Fumbles-lost 4-2 0-0
Records: Clarke County 1-0; Berkeley Springs 0-1.

The Herald-Mail Company
100 Summit Avenue
Hagerstown, MD 21740


Friday, August 28, 2009

Pekin hopes to solve Sigourney-Keota offense

Panthers, Savage-Cobras amped for battle

By Carson Tigges
Ledger sports editor
Thursday, August 27, 2009 2:55 PM CDT

Friday night will be power vs. power when Pekin and Sigourney-Keota meet in Packwood to kick off the 2009 season.

Last year’s power struggle gave Sigourney-Keota a win by the slimmest of margins after its come from behind victory gave them a 20-19 win to start the season. Pekin hopes to bounce back and get a win, but maybe more importantly, head coach Tom Stone just wants to see his team on the field.

“The guys are really tired of practicing, playing against ourselves and just want to see somebody different,” he said. “Some people say they’re not ready to play, but we are ready to go. We’ll make some mistakes, but I know we’re going to work hard.

“I’m pleased with the excitement the kids have been showing. No doubt, they’re geared up and ready to go.”

The Panthers may need the kind of intensity that Stone speaks of to match up in the trenches with a big, talented Savage Cobra line. The Panthers do have size of their own however, including last year’s all-state linemen Darin Adam, but also may need a little more to solve the Sigourney-Keota offense.

“They run that single wing offense and it’s just a hard thing to prepare for because it’s about the only time we’ll see it all season,” Stone said. “It’s hard to come up with keys for the boys to look for because they do such a good job concealing the ball and make it hard to find.”

Offensively for Pekin, Dalton Stone will be running the show from the quarterback position for his third straight year, and Trenton Northup steps in at running back and figures to receive a majority of the carries for the run-heavy offense.

Kickoff for the non-district game is slated for 7 p.m. at Pekin.

The Fairfield Ledger
112 E. Broadway • Box 171
Fairfield, Iowa 52556



It's Game Time!

Coming off playoff stint, Lynx oozing with confidence entering season

By Troy Banning, DFJ Sports Editor
POSTED: August 27, 2009
WEBSTER CITY There's no hope, right? With so many new bodies in place and so few tangible statistics to grab onto for support, the season may as well be over before it even begins.
Is that what you believe where the Webster City football team is concerned? Lynx head coach Bob Howard won't be angry with you if you fall into that camp. What he will do, however, is impart this small sliver of wisdom: Don't throw in the towel just yet.

Howard has already heard it and, heck, he's even fueled the fire. He wants everyone to believe his team is going through the rebuilding process just one year removed from the program's first trip to the Class 3A state playoffs since 1996. He wants opposing teams to lapse into a false sense of security.

That's when Howard knows he's got them. Because and, shhh!, let's just keep this between you and me he thinks this fall's version of the Webster City football team is going to be pretty fierce.

"I'm real comfortable with where we are and I'm also comfortable with everybody thinking we have absolutely nothing coming back," Howard, who will enter his 33rd year overall on the sideline with an impressive career record of 259-67 when the Lynx travel to Dysart to face Union at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, said recently. "Outside of Webster City, that's how it's all going to be portrayed, too. But I think we're fine. I don't know that I've ever went into a season where our goal wasn't to get to the playoffs, and that's a legitimate goal for this team."

Last season's Lynx broke through an invisible barrier that was in front of the program for far too long. In only Howard's second season in charge, Webster City compiled a 7-4 record, placed second in 3A District 2, and won a postseason game over Dallas Center-Grimes, 20-14 in the substate round, before finally falling to Carroll, 41-26 in the first round of the playoffs.

There was a four-game win streak and more than 3,100 yards of rushing offense out of Howard's now legendary single wing attack. But now it's gone.

Webster City has the daunting task of trying to replace the district's most productive backfield. Tailback John Hill chewed up 1,424 ground yards one of the 10 best single-season performances in school history and scored 17 touchdowns, while wingback Kevin Kannuan piled up 562 yards and spinback Brent Nelson added 501 rushing yards. All three are expected to return to Lynx Field this season as spectators.

"We'll obviously miss Hill, Nelson, (tailback Ross) Haren and Kannuan," Howard said. "That senior class from last year, there was a lot of contributions it made besides what people saw on the field. They helped to change the attitude and the climate, and they made the work ethic in the strength and conditioning program normal. And this year's group of seniors has really bought into that and we are going to be a good deal more physical. We're more physical because these kids have been lifting now for going on three full years.

"This group will play hard and they hit, and I think that's exciting. They're going to make some mistakes because we've got a lot of new kids, but they're also going to make some plays."


Senior Dalton Keane will be handed the keys to the Webster City offense. The 6-foot-2, 185-pounder will take over for Nelson at spinback after a successful stint as the junior varsity team's quarterback a year ago. Keane is new to the spinback position, but his speed, size and ability to run and throw the ball make him the perfect candidate for the job, Howard said.

"Dalton Keane is going to be a big surprise I think," Howard, who is 10-10 in his two years at Webster City, said. "Dalton has a really good arm and he can runhe's one of the fastest spinbacks that's I've ever coached. Now, how fast he learns to control the game, that will be the key. But I think he'll do very well and if he doesn't then we've got (sophomore) Johnny Davis behind him, and Johnny is a dang good second option."

Lined up beside Keane in the backfield will be senior tailback Ben Rasmussen and senior wingback Clayton Nessa. Senior Jacob Bullock will serve as the blocking back.

Rasmussen started most of last season at a linebacker position. While it's true that the diminutive senior didn't carry the ball a single time last season not in a varsity or junior varsity game Howard still expects him to be a handful for the opposition.

"There's definitely going to be a difference between Hill and Haren and Ben," Howard said. "Ben might not go 80 yards, but he'll go 30 to 40 and he'll also get the 4. He has looked really good and he's another one that worked really hard on his speed and quickness in the offseason."

On the outside at the tight end positions will be Bryan Johnson and Nate Yanda, both seniors. Classmate Zach Lind and sophomore Andrew May will also see time at an end spot.

The Lynx will be inexperienced up front as well. Senior guard James Hartley is the only member of the unit that saw significant playing time last season, but that doesn't seem to bother Howard.

"The line is what's exciting to me," he said. "These guys have all put on a lot of weight and it was really neat watching them work their butts off to do it."

Lining up at center arguably the most important position in the single wing offense will be sophomore Tony Anderson. Hartley and Nick Erritt will be at guard, while Justin Crouch and Alex Anderson are expected to start at tackle. Cody Mosbach will likely see significant time at a tackle spot as well after he recovers from a broken hand.


If there was a glaring weakness on the 2008 Lynx squad, it was on the defensive side of the ball. Who can forget Algona quarterback John Gifford terrorizing Webster City for 418 rushing yards last September?

Howard was none too happy when Gifford went berserk out of the Bulldogs' option attack. But he'll be even more livid if some other player gets within a galaxy of those numbers this season.

"Defensively, I think we're much more physical up front and at linebacker just because of that year the kids have had to grow," Howard said. "I'm looking forward to seeing what this defense does because I think it's a pretty good outfit."

Webster City will shift to a 4-3 scheme with Caleb Miller and either Hartley or Johnson on the outside at the defensive end positions. A slew of players Anderson, Crouch, Tim Gillette, Dalton Clark and Jose Garcia will get reps at tackle.

"We've got four or five tackles that can all play in there and they've all got some size," Howard said. "These guys aren't going to get run over."

Howard is particularly encouraged by the preseason performances of his linebackers. Senior Tyler Moen started there last year and he'll be flanked by sophomore Luke Shannon and senior Kit Paper. Rasmussen one of the team's premier linebackers last year will be kept out of the rotation if possible in order to keep him fresh.

"This is as good as our linebackers have looked in a long time," Howard said. "Tyler has been playing with a great attitude and he's being a leader for this defense. Luke's a good one and Kit's grown a lot as well."

Keane and senior Tanner Jensen will likely get the nods at cornerback, while Lind and Nessa will be at the safety positions. Davis, May, Daniel Stoakes and Andrew Monson will also see plenty of the field.


Who had the best special teams in District 2 a year ago? That's maybe the easiest question to answer: it was Webster City.

The Lynx gained on average 13 yards on each exchange because of the talents of punter Ryan Vande Zande and punt/kickoff return man Nate Treibel. Both were part of the talented graduated senior class, which means Webster City has some important openings it's looking to fill.

"Speical teams are a big deal and we had really good special teams last year," Howard said. "We didn't have a punt blocked and we didn't have one returned on us last year, and then we returned two on opponents. So that's a concern for us this year."

Keane will also serve as the punter, although the interviews for the position of return man have yet to be completed.


Webster City won't be the favorite to win the championship when District 2 play gets underway during Week 3 of the regular season. But the Lynx won't be the official doormat for the rest of the district either.

Perennial powerhouse Clear Lake is again the fashionable preseason pick to take one of the district's postseason berths, and Howard isn't straying from the norm. But after that it's wide open.

"Clear Lake has got some kids back and they're still going to be Clear Lake," Howard said. "When you're on top and you're used to winning like Clear Lake does, that's a big thing.

"But after that I think it's really balanced. There's nobody on paper where you can say, well, we can work on next week. The good part of that is Webster City isn't that for anybody now either like last year when we played four homecomings. I don't think people are just going to inherently pick us for homecoming because they think that will be an easy one."

Forest City returns a bevy of talented skill-position players, namely all-district quarterback Andrew Rosacker and speedy wide receiver Jeff Arends. Waverly-Shell Rock was plenty tough last fall, and the Go-Hawks will now lean on a junior class that went unbeaten at the JV level in 2008. Algona is always tough, and the list goes on and on and on.

"It's going to be really interesting," Howard said. "So much for us revolves around us staying healthy. If we can avoid injuries at key spots, I think we have a chance to be pretty good."

The Daily Freeman Journal

P.O. Box 490
Webster City, IA 50595


Wildcat offense is actually a form of the single wing, with deep Jersey roots

by David Waldstein/The Star-Ledger

Like most NFL fans, Billy Granville heard all the hype about the Dolphins' Wildcat offense back in September. So as an ex-NFL player, he was naturally curious to see exactly what it was all about.
When the former Lawrenceville School star and Bengals linebacker finally saw replays of Miami running back Ronnie Brown taking a direct snap, spinning to his left, faking a handoff to Ricky Williams and then running up the gut for a touchdown, Granville first smiled to himself.

Then he thought of Dr. Ken Keuffel, the legendary Lawrenceville coach who single-handedly kept the single wing alive and thriving in New Jersey for a half century.

If anyone would have immediately recognized those plays and understood their genealogy, it would have been Coach Keuffel, who passed away in 2006 at age 82.

"They were calling it the Wildcat," Granville said from his home in Houston. "They can call it whatever they want. But that's the single wing. They resurrected Dr. K."

The single wing is an offensive football formation based on precision timing, deception and power. In its traditional form it's an almost paradoxical combination of razzle-dazzle and power in which the ball is snapped directly to a tailback, which was Granville's offensive position at Lawrenceville.

He can then hand off to another back, pass, spin, fake, run or do all of the above. No one on the planet knew the offense better than the influential Keuffel (pronounced koy-ful), who played it at Princeton, coached it for 30 years, wrote two books about it, and dissected it with a host of other coaches, including his friends Joe Paterno and Bill Belichick.

The Dolphins don't run the single wing in its purest form, which has an unbalanced offensive line designed to muscle through one side of the defense, a highly skilled center snapper, and no traditional quarterback.

But what Miami runs is clearly a second cousin of the single wing, and as such has its foundation in New Jersey high school and college football.

When Brown and the Dolphins line up in their Wildcat formations, they bring back a style of football that was sustained, nurtured and perfected here by Keuffel.

"He was the Godfather of the single wing," said Jim Benedict, the Watchung Hills coach who became a Keuffel disciple and friend when he was coaching at Summit High School. "He knew as much about it as anyone because he played it and coached it all those years, and he was so passionate about it."

Once the dominant offense of the 1930s and '40s, the single wing eventually fell out of favor across the country -- replaced mostly by the Wing T with the quarterback over center. It was kept alive in pockets for more than a half-century by a substrata of devotees, primarily high school coaches and football eccentrics spread across the country in a loose network of loyal adherents.

Lawrenceville was one of the places where the single wing survived, like a classic piece of living art in a museum, and Ken Keuffel was its curator.

Born in 1924, Keuffel grew up in Montclair and played in the single wing at Princeton in the late 1940s, where Dick Kazmaier would later become the last single wing Heisman trophy winner in 1951.

Keuffel learned at the knee of another single wing master, the great Princeton coach Charlie Caldwell. Boston psychiatrist Phil Isenberg was a linebacker at Harvard from 1948-50 when they played big-time college football, and was charged with stopping Kazmaier and the single wing, and he said Caldwell was an underrated coach.

"They were the best-coached team we ever played," Isenberg recalled. "They were disciplined and just lined up and played with tremendous power and precision."

After graduating from Princeton, Keuffel had a brief stint as a kicker with the Eagles before going to Pennsylvania to get his doctorate in English literature. He coached Penn's freshman team, then went to Lawrenceville in 1954, to Wabash College from 1961-66 and then back to Lawrenceville, where he coached from 1967-82 and 1990-99 until he retired with a record of 151-89-8. But wherever he was, he coached only one offense.

"Football is all about copycats and the flavor of the month," said Ed Racely, a single wing historian and one of Keuffel's best friends. "Whatever is in vogue, well, everyone usually switches to it. But not Ken. He was true to the single wing forever. He never gave up on it, and he was always willing to help anyone who wanted to learn it."

Benedict was one who learned from the master. In 1992 he drove down from Summit to Lawrenceville to learn a couple of plays for short yardage situations. He spent hours upon fruitful hours with Keuffel and came away mesmerized and excited. As he drove back along route 206 he had a revelation. Why not adopt the single wing as our entire offensive system?

"I called Ken and he actually tried to talk me out of it at first," Benedict said. "He wasn't sure I was committed, and to run the single wing offense, you have to be committed. I assured him I was, and he finally agreed."

Shortly thereafter Benedict drove back down to Lawrenceville and got the full treatment -- books, film, charts, diagrams over a 16-hour crash course. That fall Summit instituted the single wing offense and went 8-3 and lost in the state finals. The next year they went 11-0 and beat Mendham for the championship.

One of his assistants, Bill Tracy, won a state championship this year with Livingston using an admixture of wing T, shotgun and the single wing he learned from Keuffel via Benedict.

Benedict, who went on to coach at Westfield, Rutgers and now Watchung Hills, made a tape of Summit's highlights from that undefeated season and, unknown to him, it began to circulate around the single wing community across the country.

Years later Paul Shanklin, a single wing convert in the 1990s who was a volunteer assistant for Benedict at Watchung Hills, told Benedict that highlight tape had become a well-known artifact in the single wing community, although no one even knew who it was. They were simply called: "The Strangers from the East."

Keuffel and his son Ken Jr., who played the critical center position for his dad's teams in the late 1970s, were in the stands when Summit completed its undefeated season, and the coach couldn't have been more pleased to see his offense run to perfection.

That's why Ken Jr. believes his father would have been so excited to see the Dolphins and Brown run their variation that first time in Foxborough. Brown ran for four touchdowns that day and threw for another.

"My dad was a huge Patriots fan and he had the NFL package, so he watched every one of their games," Keuffel, an art reporter in Winston-Salem, said this week while on vacation in Mexico. "I know he would have been watching, and would have gotten such a kick out of seeing it in the NFL, even if it was against Belichick."

Belichick's first encounter with Keuffel came in 1970 while he was at Andover Academy in Massachusetts. He and his teammate, Ernie Adams, who is still one of Belichick's closest advisors, were both early admirers of Keuffel, who also went to Andover in the early 1940s.

As a kind of teenage football nerd, Adams had not only read Keuffel's 1964 book "Simplified Single Wing Football," he had it in his locker when Keufel brought Lawrenceville to play Andover in 1970. After the game Adams ran back to his locker, grabbed the book and had the legend himself sign it for him on the field.

Years later Belichick, whose father Steve played and coached the single wing, kept in contact with Keuffel, and spoke at his clinics. He also wrote a testimonial to Keuffel's updated 2004 book, "Winning Single Wing Football -- A Simplified Guide for the Football Coach." According to Ken Jr., book sales are up with the revival of the single wing through the Wildcat and Miami's remarkable run this year.

"When you think about the Dolphins season, there's no doubt the Wildcat had a lot to do with their success this year," Granville said. "I think it gave them a lot of confidence and momentum when they beat New England. Even though Coach (Keuffel) was friends with Belichick, I know he would have loved to have seen it."

New Jersey On-Line

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Talk of the NFL: How long will wildcat last?

Associated Press

MIAMI -- Practice had just ended at the Miami Dolphins' training camp, and beads of sweat fell from Ronnie Brown's chin as he scrunched his face and considered a question.

Inquiring minds wanted to know: How many times was he asked about the wildcat during the offseason?

"I never really thought I'd have to count that high," Brown finally said. "I don't know; I lost count a while back."

Even after last season, the Dolphins' variation of the century-old single wing continued to generate impressive numbers. The wildcat's now a frequent topic of conversation, not just for Brown but throughout the NFL.

The Dolphins plan to expand their use of the formation this season. The Eagles signed Michael Vick in part with the wildcat in mind. Jerry Jones said his Cowboys are eager to try it. And the college coach often credited as the source of the league's latest fad said interest keeps spreading.

"We had a lot of NFL coaches talk to us," said Houston Nutt, coach of the Mississippi Rebels. "We had about six or seven coaches call us this summer talking about the Wild Rebel. I call it the Wild Rebel now."

Nutt was at Arkansas when the package made a big splash there with Darren McFadden taking direct snaps in 2006-07. The concept found its way last season to Miami, where new coach Tony Sparano was desperate to rejuvenate his offense.

The Dolphins had lost 20 of their past 21 games when they unveiled the wildcat in Week 3 at New England. Miami's version transformed quarterback Chad Pennington into a flanker and put three running backs on the field, with the snap going to one of them, Brown.

The result: Four touchdowns in six plays from the formation and a 38-13 upset that marked an abrupt turnaround in the franchise's fortunes. The Dolphins went on to their first playoff berth since 2001.

The rest of the league took note, and by the end of the year, 20 teams had run at least one wildcat play. Eight teams used it more than 10 times, with Miami's 90 snaps by far the most, according to STATS. The Steelers even ran it once in their Super Bowl victory.

Coaches are divided as to how long wildcat mania will last.

"I don't think any of us know the answer to that question," said Bill Belichick, whose Patriots were ambushed by Miami last September. "It's a little bit of defending the unknown. Defenses are going to have to work against it and have some plan for how to deal with it. But there are so many different versions of how to run it. It will be interesting to see how all that develops."

The latest wrinkle puts the ball back in the hands of a quarterback - but one who can run, such as Vick or Dolphins rookie Pat White.

Brown scored five touchdowns taking snaps for Miami last year, but because he posed little threat as a passer, defenses clamped down late in the season. The Dolphins drafted White in the second round and have kept their plans for him under wraps, but Sparano said the wildcat chapter of his playbook is thick.

"We really didn't scratch the surface last year," Sparano said.

The Eagles feel the same way now that they have Vick, who holds several rushing records for quarterbacks, including most yards in a season (1,039) when he played for Atlanta.

"He is that ultimate guy that every wildcat offense should have," Giants defensive end Justin Tuck said. "Think about it - you have an option to throw it. Why not get a quarterback who is just as good as any running back is in this league and still can throw it?"

The Eagles' wildcat package could get Vick and Donovan McNabb on the field at the same time.

"There are some things you can do with it," Philadelphia coach Andy Reid said. "It's a good wrinkle. You can have some fun."

Other teams want in on the fun. McFadden, who hobbled through his rookie season in Oakland, may yet duplicate his college success in the wildcat. The Jaguars installed it this spring, with Maurice Jones-Drew taking most of the snaps. The Jets use it with Leon Washington and quarterback-turned-receiver Brad Smith. The Vikings worked on a package during training camp revolving around their top draft pick, receiver Percy Harvin, which means Brett Favre might find himself playing flanker.

Cowboys owner Jones is excited about the wildcat because of its Arkansas roots. He was co-captain of the Razorbacks' undefeated 1964 team, and the Cowboys have a tantalizing threat in former first-round pick Felix Jones, who was McFadden's wingman in the wildcat at Arkansas. Running back Tashard Choice is a potential triggerman.

With a laugh, Jerry Jones calls the package "the Razorback."

"It's going to be an important part of what we do," he said. "Just think about having Felix and Tashard back there, and not knowing which way they're going or which one has the ball. That could be real good."

Skeptics question the wildcat's longevity, especially without a passing threat. They note the Dolphins' success tapered off as the 2008 season progressed. They say the injury risk to the triggerman is high. They say defensive coordinators usually find an answer to any offensive innovation.

"Wrinkles come, wrinkles go," Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio said. "That's the ebb and flow of the game."

Dolphins offensive coordinator Dan Henning predicts teams can get a lot more mileage - or yardage, at least - out of the wildcat. He said it's a natural fit for running quarterbacks emerging these days from top college programs, such as West Virginia's White or Florida's Tim Tebow.

"We're a function personnel-wise of what's going on in college," Henning said. "We can't fund 32 teams with top quarterbacks if you're not training them in college. And in college they're going to the spread offense now, where the quarterback is half runner and half passer."

Still, this is the NFL, where quarterbacks rarely run and the single wing vanished more than 50 years ago in favor of the T-formation.

Nutt received word early last season that his former assistant, David Lee, was helping the Dolphins install the wildcat. That was just before they sprung it on the Patriots.

"I said, `There's no way that's going to happen in the NFL,"' Nutt said. "But then, lo and behold, David texted me one day and he said, `Watch the highlights tonight if you get a chance.' And sure enough, I couldn't believe it."

Ah, the element of surprise. That's the charm of the wildcat - and one reason it might stay around awhile.

Associated Press


2009 Football Preview: Maysville

August 27, 2009
Staff Writer

NEWTON TOWNSHIP -- A new football stadium signals a new era for the Maysville Panthers.

But will all the fanfare surrounding the fieldhouse, artificial grass surface and video scoreboard translate to on-field success?

"I think it's helped getting more kids out for football this year, but facilities don't win you games," said coach Whit Parks, getting ready for his second season roaming the sidelines.

He said he feels really good about having 71 players out this year, and the amount of offseason work the team has put in.

"I'm pleased with how hard they are working, and their dedication to the program," he said. "We're just taking things day by day, and week by week."

But Park admits his team needs to get out of the gate quickly this season to shrug off the past, coming off an 0-10 campaign in his return to the area last year.

Having three straight home games to open the season could help, though Tri-Valley looms large in the Week 2 Muskingum Valley League opener, sandwiched by Linsly, W. Va. and Morgan.

"Coming off the kind of season we had, our confidence level needs a boost," he said. "They need to feel that success of winning, and the confidence it brings. Our players are coming in here very aware they need to work hard, improve and get better."

The Panthers also will have to shake off a key offseason loss in senior Bryan Havens, who was paralyzed in an all-terrain vehicle accident last month.

"He's a senior, and it's a big loss for us," Parks said, after teammates held up Havens' No. 6 jersey during the team's picture day. Havens was expected to see plenty of time on both sides of the ball, as a wideout as well as at linebacker. "He was probably our best defensive player last year."

Three-year letterwinner Cory Wilson, two-year lettermen Dustin Calihan and Dakota Pettet and junior Josh Bender are expected to be keys for the Panthers this year.

Another weapon to be employed is the dangerous leg of senior Kody Fulkerson, who averaged nearly 40 yards per punt and was MVL Punter of the Year. He also booted a school-record 48-yard field goal and is being recruited by several big schools.

The Panthers will once again line up in the single-wing offense and play a 3-4 defense.

"We think it fits what we want to do," Parks said. "We've got a pretty young line, but they have decent size and are growing day by day on the field. We hope we can mesh together, run the ball better and establish our physicality on the lines."

Sticking together as a team also will be key in the always tough MVL, which was none too kind to the Panthers last fall.

"Our whole football program is built around the team concept. We pound that into them, and we're seeing the chemistry develop," Parks added. "You can't look at any of the games as easy. We have great respect for the great coaches in our extremely competitive league.

"But our expectation is, if we play hard, then wins and success, those things will happen."

Parks will be assisted by Bryan Kanavel, Mike Casapini, Erik Winland, Don Hilty, Matt M
cIntyre, Steve Lawler and Josh Willison. Junior high coaches are Dustin Young, Dan Starrett and Nate Prati.

Zanesville Times Recorder
34 S. Fourth Street
Zanesville, OH 43701


Trickery is all the rage with Prescott's high school football team

Tiny school gains edge by fooling defenses
By Tim Leighton
Updated: 08/27/2009 12:32:35 AM CDT

PRESCOTT, Wis. — Cole Geiger approached the line of scrimmage as though he would take the snap during practice at Prescott High School. He wasn't there long.

Hey, where did he go?

After a flurry of activity, Geiger lined up in the slot as a receiver. After more shifting, bruising fullback Ty Stees took a direct snap and blew through a gaping hole for a long gain.

Hey, where did Stees come from?

And that was one of the easier plays to follow.

Welcome to Prescott's offense. Its primary emphasis is on befuddling an opponent.

"It's our version of the Wildcat,'' Geiger, a senior running back, said last week of the attack that features direct snaps to numerous players. "We make things pretty confusing for the other guys. We have all these trick plays. It is like backyard football you played as a kid.''

The offense, a throwback to the single wing, is one reason the community of just more than 4,000 is buzzing about the Cardinals making a run at the Middle Border Conference title and a state tournament berth for the first time since 2000.

"I know we are going to do something special this season,'' said senior lineman Taylor Palmer, one of 11 returning starters.

Thoughts of a postseason berth and winning season were a Hail Mary pass away two seasons ago, when the Cardinals trudged to a 0-9 record. Prescott used a Jet-Wing formation with some spread, but had little success.

"Guys were giving up,'' senior lineman Chris Krech said.

"Days were long, and practices were longer. There was no intensity. It was tough to survive.''
Said coach Jason Wolf: "To finish 0-9 is pretty humbling. It was one of the toughest things I've been through in my 16 years of coaching. We tried our best to remain positive and upbeat. I probably made the mistake of trying too hard. We had nine of our starters injured, and anything that could go wrong did.''

Wolf knew his team needed a jolt. It came in the form of changing the entire offense.

"Being the smallest school in the conference," Wolf said, "we had to do something.''

His brainstorm wasn't immediately embraced.

"I thought he was a little crazy,'' Krech said.

"I was really skeptical,'' Stees said. "But then we really warmed up to it quickly once we figured out the X's and O's.''

The Cardinals opened last season 3-0 en route to a 5-4 finish and just missed a playoff berth. In 2007, Prescott rushed for 744 yards during the conference season, near the bottom of the conference. In 2008, Prescott's more wide-open attack produced 1,580 yards rushing during the conference season, third in the conference. Geiger scored 10 touchdowns and averaged almost 7 yards a carry.

"All it took was that first win last year,'' said senior Zak Charette, who along with Geiger is a slash-type offensive player. "That woke some people up around here and got us back on track.''

The positive outlook from last season carried into a summer workout program, for which 28 of 37 players received awards, Wolf said.

With a season's experience of running the single wing, the Cardinals are trying to polish their footwork and trickery.

During a practice last week, Geiger shifted among three positions before a play that ended with Charette hitting him with a 30-yard pass that would have gone for a longer gain, if not a touchdown, if the play had continued. The play sent a jolt of excitement through the team.

Last season, Wolf didn't designate a quarterback — it wasn't necessary in his offense —which befuddled parents and the community. This season, he has labeled Geiger and Charette his quarterbacks.

"I did that to clean up any confusion in town,'' Wolf said.

"It never bothered me, but the parents were awfully confused,'' said Geiger, who rushed for more than 800 yards last season. "It was kind of funny.

"We have turned some heads. The atmosphere around here has really changed. More people are coming to our games now. We have a slight swagger, but we are still keeping our heads on straight. I think we have a good thing going here.''

Pioneer Press
345 Cedar Street
St. Paul, MN 55101


There's still a lot of zing in that single wing

Maroons have taken on all comers in Hofer’s 42 years

EagleHerald assistant sports editor

Forty-five years ago, Ken Hofer heeded the call from Stephenson football coach Axel Anderson and stepped onto the sidelines as the head coach of the Eagles.

He picked up his first win as a head coach Sept. 11, 1964, in a 21-7 win over Negaunee.

Three state titles later, Hofer, the Maroons and the single-wing offense are legends well beyond the city limits of Menominee and Stephenson.

Hofer has always said when he hits the practice field with his team, the Maroons make him feel young.

Pitching off the ball during a one-on-one drill, the U.P. and Michigan High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Famer looks as lithe and spirited as coaches half his age.

"That's three good plays in a row," he barked at a preseason practice. "Good Maroons." When a player makes a mistake on execution, Hofer warns him, "Do that again and you run a lap," before breaking into a smile.

During his 41-year run as coach of Menominee, Hofer has posted an amazing 66-26 record against Division 1 or Class A schools.

He has a 13-0 record against Green Bay Division 1 schools Green Bay Southwest and Green Bay West, and is 10-1 against Division I Milwaukee teams.

Big-school teams from Madison are 0-3 against the Maroon coach, and he is a combined 4-1 against Racine Park, Racine Case and Racine St. Catherine.

Dave Keel, coach of defending WIAA Division I champion Mequon Homestead, points out that Menominee's success isn't because opposing defenses aren't familiar with the single wing.

"What impressed me about Menominee and coach Hofer when we played them was their team discipline and toughness on each possession. He has success because he gets kids to play. He could run the Daffy Duck offense and he would be successful."

Hofer's teams are 105-55-1 against current Great Northern Conference teams. Kingsford and Escanaba have been the most competitive against Hofer's Maroons. Menominee holds a 25-24 edge over the Flivvers, while Hofer's son, Chris, has a 16-11 margin over his dad. A 10-game winning streak over the Eskymos has given the Maroons a 23-19 edge in the oldest rivalry in the U.P.

John Mileski has retired twice as the coach at Gladstone since taking over 31 years after Hofer's debut with the Maroons. He handed over the head job to his son, Josh, this season, but will remain as an assistant.

Mileski switched to a spread offense last season and led his team to the regional finals.

"I don't care what system you use, it's the quality of coaching and it's getting the kids to perform at a high level," Mileski said. "Menominee kids buy into football."

The single wing has more than held its own against Wisconsin Division 1 super powers Mequon Homestead and Schofield D.C. Everest. Menominee is 3-1 against the Highlanders and 1-1 against the Evergreens.

"His teams out-execute the opposition," Keel explained. "They keep coming right at you. His kids can definitely compete in any league in Wisconsin. They would fit right in (the Wisconsin Valley)."

Keel joked heading into the 2008 season that Hofer couldn't retire until the Highlanders had another shot at the Maroons after a 42-28 loss to Menominee in 2007.

"He's having too much fun to slow down," the Homestead coach said.

Menominee has played 28 different teams in the playoffs under Hofer, and compiled a 27-15 record. Kingford (6-2) is the only team to beat the Maroons more than once in the postseason.

George Rykovich, who coached the single wing at Manitou Springs, Colo., for 30 years while racking up more than 200 wins, has come to know Hofer through single-wing coaching clinics. The two coaches are members of Single Wing Coaches Association Legends group.

"Both Ken and I believe that you find a system you believe in. You hang your hat on it and the rest is history," said Rykovich. "He's a class person. That's why he's been so successful. That's why Ken is who he is. He's one of the guys I would like to have my son play football for."

Rykovich noted that Hofer is always one of the most respected coaches at the single-wing clinics.

"Our relationship is special for me," said Rykovich. "I borrowed a play from him where the tailback puts the ball behind his back. I always tell him he's helped us win some games."

Rykovich, who is retired after 47 years of coaching, feels the single wing does provide some advantages, but stressed that it comes down to execution like every other offense.

"Ken and I like to joke about the new wrinkles in the single wing," he explained. "The new wrinkles are there from the '30s. We're just borrowing from an era long gone. Ken keeps his eyes open and anything he can adapt to his system, he'll borrow it."

Rykovich pointed out that Hofer is as sharp as ever at single-wing clinics. Like Hofer, the former coach said that the players are what brought him back to the sidelines year after year.

"You get into it because of the love of the game. The memories he has of his young men. He'll have that for a lifetime. Nothing is lost until it's forgotten. When you don't have that fire in your belly, it's time to (retire). Ken still has the fire in his belly."

After all the wins and losses are recorded and trophies are placed in the trophy case, it still comes down to what a group of young men learn from their coach.

Mike Desotell, now a reporter for the EagleHerald, was a lineman for the Maroons in 1976.

"There were days on the practice field I would have loved to tackle coach Hofer," Desotell recalled. "He drove me crazy with his rules and physical demands. He rode us in two-a-day practices, making us fat linemen run sprints and jog to the fire hydrant and back.

"It took until I was out of high school for several years to realize what all that extra running and drilling was all about. He wasn't just making sure we were in shape and condition for football, he was preparing us for life. All those sprints, agility drills and jogs to the fire hydrant and back were showing us that things don't just happen. You have to work for it. Ken Hofer turned out to be more than my coach. He was my teacher, my mentor, my friend and remains so to this day."

EagleHerald Publishing, Inc.
1809 Dunlap Ave.
P.O.Box 77
Marinette, WI 54143


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Bayer adjust the single wing offense to the team that he fields


A summer of passing camps, weight lifting and conditioning has led into the first week of practice for four area football teams, each looking to find missing links while establishing their own identities.

Part of establishing an identity as a football team comes from the creation of a structure. Torrington coach Dan Dunaj and his staff have spent since December 2008 putting up such a structure. The players are in their third week together this summer. The cohesion began with a 7-on-7 passing camp. Conditioning kicked off on Aug. 18. On Tuesday, the Red Raiders put on the pads and started hitting. The players have also been involved in weight lifting programs during the offseason.

Dunaj is using the what-ifs of a 5-6 season in 2008 as motivation for his older players. If a couple of things had gone Torrington’s way, the Red Raiders may have ended up with an 8-3 record. In games against Woodland, Wolcott and Kennedy, Torrington was tied or had the lead in the fourth quarter. Each time, the Red Raiders came up short.

“I’ve sold that to the kids,” Dunaj said. “I don’t think they know how close they were to a turnaround.”

Though Torrington was running offensive plays from a more wide open scheme during drills, the coaches are still looking for hard-hitting players.

“We just got to feel out who our most physicals are on a consistent basis,” Dunaj said.

The Red Raiders lost six seniors, four of whom were all-NVL.

“We’re just untested, some of our kids,” Dunaj said.

Across the street at Wolcott Tech, establishing an identity takes on a whole other meaning. The Wildcats are in their third year as a program, second on the varsity level. Tech coach Jamie Coty has already noticed a difference in the commitment his team has at this point in the summer when compared to last year.

“These kids were showing up every time for (optional lifting sessions during the summer),” Coty said.

The lifting sessions could only be on certain days because the team draws players from over 10 different towns, including as far away as Hartland and Granby. The distance the players have to travel to practice made Coty opt to have spring practice instead of picking up conditioning days in August.

“To get all the kids here for practice when school is out is impossible,” Coty said.

That kind of dynamic has not hurt the camaraderie of the team.

“When they’re here, we’re family,” assistant coach Paul Beavers said. “We’re all the same.”

The strong turnout of freshmen and new players has the coaching staff hopeful.

“I’m hoping for 40-plus (players),” assistant coach Sean Durante said.

For a program in just its third seasons, player leadership was evident while watching just some of the conditioning drills that took place (Wolcott Tech, Gilbert/Northwestern and Housatonic/Wamogo had spring practice, which meant conditioning did not begin for the schools until Monday).

During a running drill, seniors Tom Notchick and Nick Schibi led the way. In another drill, senior Wade Belletti was pushing his younger teammates to do more. Senior Dan Bergeron is another strong leader, while junior running back Isaiah Harrington provided leadership by example with his hard work during the offseason.

Wolcott Tech will look to take advantage of its large offensive line in the running the game.

For Gilbert/Northwestern, the attack will also come on the ground, but a new quarterback, Bob Lippincott, and solid players at skill positions could provide for a balanced, explosive offense. Not unlike Torrington and Wolcott Tech, however, the Yellowjackets are looking to fill in missing slots.

“Day 2 and we’re looking alright,” Gilbert/Northwestern coach Scott Salius said. “Our main thing is we have to develop an offensive line.”

GN returns just an offensive tackle and tight end from last year’s front line. The five days of conditioning mandated by the CIAC mean that the Yellowjackets will be working on plenty of agility drills.

“We have a lot of two-way guys,” Salius said.

Like Torrington and Wolcott Tech, the players for Gilbert/Northwestern have been active in the weight room. The potential is there for a solid season, if certain pieces come together.

“We got a lot of weapons, if we can block for them,” Salius said.

A team that lost plenty of firepower was Housatonic/Wamogo. The Mountaineers graduated fourteen players, including a large offensive line (average weight around 250 pounds for six players) and star back Will Kennedy. As in his two previous seasons, Housy coach Deron Bayer will adjust the single wing offense to the team that he fields.

“We have all kinds of new players who we’re teaching the game to,” Bayer said.

As is the case in every year, Bayer starts at the beginning with the single wing.

“We start with our base play and get the fundamentals down,” Bayer said.

The goal for the Mountaineers will be to establish a core set of plays on offense that the team can hang its hat on. On defense, Housatonic/Wamogo will look to find a core defensive set that it can use.

“We have a plan, but we monitor and adjust as we go,” Bayer said.

It is a certainty that all four area teams will make adjustments in their schemes leading up to first games during the week of Sept. 13.

The Register Citizen
190 Water St.,
Torrington, CT 06790


Auburn player Kodi Burns 'all over the place'

By Andy Bitter -

AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn’s football team had the day off a week ago Monday, but not Kodi Burns. The quarterback-turned-wide receiver took it upon himself to go to the Tigers’ indoor practice facility and work on the finer points of his new position, catching over 100 passes on a JUGS machine.

Word spread. Other wideouts got text messages from teammates. Soon, every one of them was there, working alongside Burns.

“That is off Kodi’s leadership,” wide receivers coach Trooper Taylor said. “They don’t want to get out-worked by him.”

It has been nearly two weeks since Auburn’s coaches named Chris Todd the starting quarterback and introduced the radical idea of moving Burns to wide receiver in order to get his athletic abilities on the field.

And while Burns’ receiving skills continue to be a work in progress — hence the never-ending JUGS machine work — Taylor promises the junior will have a role in his rotation of receivers.

“With Kodi moving into the wide receiver room, that has opened up some doors and closed the slot for somebody else,” Taylor said. “He’s going to be out there. He’s proved that he can make some plays.

“For me, it’s like having another coach in the room. He understands this offense. He knows where the receivers are supposed to be. The confidence he bring to that room was really shocking to me. He has that presence about him. It makes a difference.”

The Tigers plan to use the 6-foot-2, 208-pound Burns in a variety of ways. The junior, who still does occasional drills as a regular quarterback, has worked at both outside wide receiver positions (the “2” and “9”) and some at H-back (the “3”). He’s also an option in offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn’s Wildcat formation.

“Pretty much, I’m all over the place,” Burns said.

Running with the first team during 11-on-11 work Tuesday, Burns, still wearing his orange quarterback jersey but not restricted from contact, motioned toward the quarterback off the line on one play, hovering in the flat after the snap and remaining a receiving option for Todd. On another play, Burns stayed out wide, took a step back at the snap and caught a screen pass that went for a small gain.

“Every time he comes in the game, it doesn’t have to be a trick play,” Taylor said.

But getting Burns up to speed as a conventional wide receiver will take some work. Despite his athletic range, Burns had never played receiver before the switch. Although elusive with the ball in the hands, he’s working on fine-tuning the most elementary parts of being a receiver.

“I’m really raw,” Burns said. “I don’t have the preciseness that I need to have at wide receiver right now. ... The hardest thing about it is you know exactly what they do, but at the same time you’ve got to know where to line up. Should you be two (steps) above the numbers or two below the numbers? Just different things for different plays. I know the routes, I know who you’re supposed to block, so it’s pretty much just the lining up part and executing the route.”

The Wildcat formation seems right up his alley. Normally reserved for a speedy running back (Malzahn used Heisman Trophy runner-up Darren McFadden in the role while with Arkansas), Burns has the elusiveness and throwing ability to keep a defense honest in the single-wing set.

As the quarterback in the formation, Burns can hand the ball off to a running back streaking laterally, keep it himself or, if the defense creeps up too far, throw it to a receiver over the top. During one scrimmage this August, Burns faked the hand off and burst up the middle untouched for a long score.

With so many duties already, is there anything else on his plate?

“It’s up to the coaches,” Burns said. “You know we’re working some stuff up. We’ll see what happens.”

17 W. 12th St.
Columbus. GA 31901


SF Version of the SW - The Taser

Q&A: The run game

When I dipped into the mailbag this morning there seemed to be four topics, in particular, that dominated the thoughts of 49ers fans. Therefore, over the course of the day, I'll post Q&As on each of those issues.
First up: Jimmy Raye's offense and the run game.

Q: Will (the 49ers) take 4 running backs onto the '09 roster? (Brian D)
A: Frank Gore, Glen Coffee, Michael Robinson and Moran Norris are going to be on the team. They can certainly get by with those four players, but I think they want to keep around Kory Sheets, too.
Sheets has a lot of talent. One team source told me he has more talent than Coffee, but their different kinds of backs, too. It had to be encouraging for the 49ers to see make an immediate correction from his first game. Remember, when he stepped out of bounds with less than two minutes to play against the Broncos while the 49ers were trying to protect a lead? In the same situation against the Raiders, Sheets went down in bounds to keep the clock running.
Robinson is such a valuable player on this team. He can serve as a backup halfback and fullback while also being the team's best special-teams player. Robinson can fill in at fullback, but if they needed a fullback later in the season, they can always re-sign Zak Keasey.

Q: Any thoughts on Raye's play calling to this point? I know preseason is vanilla, but in your expertise, will he approach Norv Turner in that regard? (Vito L)
A: The 49ers tried a reverse the other night. They have their version of the Single-Wing (called the Taser) as part of their base offensive package. It's the exhibition season. The 49ers aren't trying to get fancy in these games that have no significance.

Q: Is our new offense going to put me asleep? After years of watching Jerry Rice, Joe Montana, Steve Young and other greats of the passing game, I am worried that our new philosophy is going to make for very boring offensive football. (Alex L)
A: Coach Mike Singletary and offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye seem to be on the same page. They want a no-frills offense that plays to the team's strengths. The strength of this offensive unit is a power-running game. I'm sure some people - such as the 49ers' offensive line - find that immensely enjoyable. Personally, if I were you, I wouldn't be expecting to see the 49ers score five touchdowns a game.

Q: Frank Gore is the center of our offense, but is the organization confident that Coffee can step up in case of an injury? (Mike P)
A: Yes, the organization has more reason to be confident in Glen Coffee than any of the team's other backup running backs since Gore took over as the main man. Maurice Hicks and DeShaun Foster are still out there looking for work in the NFL. As good as Coffee looked Saturday against the Raiders, let's make one thing clear: He is not going to share the load with Gore.
Gore is the 49ers' No. 1 back. Singletary said he believes Gore is one of the top-five running backs in the league. Coffee will enter a game for a series or two, and he'll be expected to do a fine job. But he's not going to take Gore's job any time soon.

The Press Democrat
427 Mendocino Ave.
P. O. Box 569
Santa Rosa, CA 95402


Monday, August 24, 2009

Balanced Bash

Trojans rush for 280 yards, pass for 186 more in 29-point drubbing of Central City
By Troy Banning, DFJ Sports Editor
POSTED: August 23, 2009

BLAIRSBURG - Is he a quarterback, a running back, or a wide receiver? At least for one game, he was all three.

Northeast Hamilton senior Seth McGowan did a little bit of everything - and he did it all quite well - Friday night as he helped the Trojans open up the 2009 football season with a resounding 43-14 beating of Central City in 8-man non-district action.

McGowan's primary responsibility was on the ground where he chewed up 137 yards of real estate and scored three touchdowns on 27 carries. He also caught three balls for 59 yards and, just for good measure, completed his only pass attempt for 22 yards.

Not too shabby for a player that is relatively new to the spotlight.

"I was pretty happy with how things went," McGowan said following Friday's contest. "Our line blocked pretty well for most of the game and in the second half they got tired and that helped us out quite a bit."

Central City (0-1) was just as exhausted mentally as it was physically throughout the second half. And the main culprit was Northeast Hamilton's relentless offense, which produced 466 yards of total offense - 280 on the ground and 186 through the air. The Trojans (1-0) scored 37 unanswered points after the game was tied at 6, churned out 23 first downs to the Wildcats 10 and held a significant edge in plays from scrimmage, 76-46.

Many of Northeast Hamilton's plays came out of a variation of the single wing offense. McGowan, along with fellow backs Marcus Mechaelsen (78 rushing yards) and Austin Pigsley (16 rushing yards, two touchdowns) routinely took direct snaps from the shotgun, which kept Central City constantly guessing.

"This is a single wing offense and we went to it because we really wanted to get that balance back where we could do different things with our backs," NEH head coach John Seiser said. "We didn't want to be predictable and we wanted to get all of the kids into areas where they could show their strengths and everybody did a really good job."

Mechaelsen did the brunt of the work when the Trojans went vertical. He completed eight of 12 passes for 124 yards and one touchdown. His 9-yard scoring hook-up with senior all-state tight end Trey Seiser early in the game capped a 10-play, 78-yard drive that sent NEH on its way to the blowout.

Seiser yanked down four balls for 58 yards. Sophomore tight end Clay Harreld was also a main target, as he caught three passes for 69 yards.

McGowan and Pigsley finished off impressive drives in the second quarter with scoring bursts of 4 yards and 1 yard respectively to propel the Trojans to a 22-6 halftime lead. They nearly pushed the lead even further on the final play of the half, as Mechaelsen found McGowan streaking down the right sideline for a 31-yard reception, but he was wrangled to the ground from behind at the Central City 10-yard line.

As it turned out though, McGowan had plenty of other opportunities to work on his end zone celebration. He took a direct snap and went untouched across the goal line from 2 yards out on the Trojans opening drive of the third quarter for a 29-6 lead. It was set up by a 14-yard pass from Mechaelsen to McGowan on fourth-and-11 that put the ball down inside the Central City 5.

Following Pigsley's second touchdown - an 8-yard scamper right up the gut - McGowan again broke through the defense for a 4-yard score to make it 43-6 in NEH's favor with 11 minutes, 48 seconds remaining in regulation.

Central City had just 13 yards of total offense in the second half prior to a late-game 53-yard drive that resulted in a touchdown against the Trojans' second- and third-string players. The Wildcats finished with 117 rushing yards and 46 more through the air, a far cry from the 430 they amassed one year earlier in their 70-55 romp over NEH on the opening night of the 2008 season.

"Last year was probably about as miserable as I've been as a coach just because it was embarrassing to play that poor defensively," John Seiser said. "So to go from where we were last year to (Friday night), yeah, we're very happy with the improvement. I think I was most proud of the second half because we wanted that attitude of coming out and playing strong. The guys came out and really took it to them."

Central City starting fullback Matt Clary was held in check for most of the night and churned out just 41 yards on 10 totes, and his only big run - a 13-yard scamper - came on a fake punt in the opening quarter. Speedy wide receiver Mason Nielsen caught only two passes for 21 yards, but he did break free for 56 rushing yards. Still, Nielsen's performance paled in comparison to his 5-TD outburst from the 2008 season opener.

NEH junior defensive back Dillon Timm collected a game-high 10 1/2 tackles, eight of with were solo, and senior Tyler Fellows added eight, including four solo stops, up front.

"I thought we played awesome for our first game," Fellows said, noting he had a little extra incentive to get after the Wildcats. "Coach Seiser told me before the game that their coach thought I was a good player, but he thought I was slow and I was going to prove him wrong. I think I did that."

NEH will play once again in front of its partisan crowd on Friday when it welcomes old North Star Conference rival Twin River Valley to town for a non-district game at 7 p.m. Fellows, for one, isn't about to let up now just because his team has one win under its belt.

"We were good, but we can get a lot better," he said. "We've just got to keep working hard."

The Daily Freeman Journal

P.O. Box 490
Webster City, IA 50595


Dolphins Smoking Hot Using Wildcat Formation

Fins beat Panthers 27-17
Updated 6:58 AM EDT, Mon, Aug 24, 2009

Getty Images

Preseason is always a time filled with questions. This year is no different.

Are the Dolphins going to continue using the Wildcat formation?

Is Ricky Williams going to make it through the season without failing a drug test?

Do cornerbacks Jason Allen and Sean Smith have the swine flu?

At least one of those questions was answered after Saturday’s game in which the Dolphins beat the Carolina Panthers 27-17.

It appears that the Wildcat Formation – in which the ball is directly snapped to the running back - will indeed be a strong part of their offense this year.

While we still can’t predict whether Williams will pass a drug test, we are comfortable knowing he has so much experience passing joints because that will only help in the Wildcat Formation, which at times requires him to accept a handoff from Ronnie Brown, only to hand the ball off again to Chad Pennington, who then passes the ball to a downfield receiver.

On Saturday, that very play resulted in a 35-yard gain.

Other variations of the Wildcat include Brown receiving the snap and running the ball himself or handing the ball to Williams who then runs the ball himself.

Meanwhile, the team is still awaiting test results that would determine whether cornerbacks Allen and Smith have the swine flu.

Associated Press / NBC Miami
First Published: Aug 23, 2009 10:39 AM EDT


NFL insiders differ on Vick's impact with Wildcat

NFL insiders differ on Vick's impact with Wildcat
Mon, Aug. 17, 2009

CORTLAND, N.Y. - If Jon Gruden still were coaching the Tampa Bay Bucs, there's a pretty good chance the Eagles wouldn't have signed Michael Vick. That's because Gruden would have beaten them to him.

Gruden is bullish on the limitless NFL possibilities of the spread offense and its baby brother, the Wildcat formation. It's become all the rage in college football, and Gruden thinks the time is ripe to bring it in a big way to the pros.

Last year, more than a dozen NFL teams used the Wildcat. Most, including the Eagles, just tinkered with it. The only team that really made it a regular staple of their offense was the Miami Dolphins, who used the Wildcat on 12 percent of their offensive plays. But they seldom threw out of the formation.

"I wanted to use it last year, but we had some injuries and shied away from it a little bit," Gruden said. "But it's been something I've been studying.

"When you pick up a college tape, 90 percent of those guys, you never see them under center. Ever. All you're seeing is spread-read options. There are guys like Tim Tebow, who is going to be coming out next year, somebody is going to take him, and somebody is going to have a plan for him. Vince Young has struggled the last couple of years. But he was wicked in that Rose Bowl game against USC. He ran for 200 and threw for 200.

"Then there's Vick. He's certainly a candidate to run the spread. Everybody's got a guy [who can run it]. Brad Smith with the Jets. Michael Robinson in San Francisco. Isaiah Stanback in Dallas. Everybody's got a guy that can throw a little bit. I think there's a wave coming."

With their recent signing of Vick, the Eagles are expected to be a big part of that wave. They used the Wildcat about a dozen times last year with wide receiver DeSean Jackson taking the direct snaps. Jackson had success running out of the formation, but threw the ball just once (an interception against Cleveland).

With Vick in the Wildcat, they will have a guy who can run and throw out of the formation.

"Michael Vick would be one of the scariest guys to run that [Wildcat] offense," Jets coach Rex Ryan said yesterday during a break at the Jets' SUNY Cortland training camp. "Probably the scariest guy."

"What the league hasn't seen yet is the Wildcat with a true passing threat there," said Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, who spent 7 years as the head coach at William Tennent and North Penn high schools. "Because if you have both, whether it's a Vick or a Pat White, the key is whether he can withstand the punishment of basically playing tailback as well [as quarterback]. How long will they be able to withstand the pounding of it?"

While Pettine acknowledges that Vick certainly will pose problems for opposing defenses in the Wildcat, he thinks the Dolphins' White, who was taken in the second round of April's draft, actually might be better fit for the role.

"A lot of [Vick's] runs [with the Falcons] were scrambles," he said. "I don't think they had a lot of designed runs for him. Plus, it remains to be seen whether he can withstand the type of punishment you're going to take playing almost a tailback-type position.

"Pat White, to me, would be a [ideal Wildcat] guy. He had a lot of called quarterback runs at West Virginia. He was basically a tailback who had good enough passer skills."

Even before the Eagles signed Vick, they already had expanded their Wildcat package this summer. They figure to expand it even more now with the arrival of Vick.

"The package has grown a little bit," coach Andy Reid said. "Can Michael eventually do that? Sure, he can do that. Are there other things we can do [with Vick]? Yeah, he can do other things. We'll see how all this works out. He's got to get back into the swing first. But at the same time, I can't tell you that things wouldn't be added to a package here and there.

"With Michael and Donovan [McNabb] and DeSean, we have a couple of guys that can run pretty fast and run the ball pretty good. So you add all those things up and you can have some fun."

Some of that "fun" almost certainly will include using Vick in other ways besides the Wildcat. He may line him up at wide receiver and be used on end-arounds or even get the ball on the outside via bubble screens or hitches, assuming he proves he can catch the ball.

Jets linebacker Bart Scott, though, is skeptical about the Vick-as-a-wideout possibility.

"I guess you could do that, but he's not a polished receiver," Scott said. "From that standpoint, he's handicapped because he's not comfortable. He doesn't know the minute details that you need to know to get off the ball, like how to point your toe, that type of thing. The things that come with doing something for a long time.

"It'd be just like if you moved me to tailback. Yeah, I can run. But I don't know the small things. I wouldn't be used to reading blocks, reading coverages, seeing where the safety is at."

Opinions of the Wildcat are mixed around the league. Some coaches think it could be The Next Big Thing. Others view it as a gimmick that will die out as soon as defenses prove they can consistently stop it.

"The single wing's been around a long time," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "[The Wildcat] is just revitalizing something that was very successful at one time. It certainly was an innovative move [to bring it back]. We'll see how that goes. We'll have to wait until the season to see how much it gets used and whether anybody really has an answer for it."

Said the Jets' Ryan: "I think it's a good weapon, I do. And you're talking to the guy that stopped it not once, but twice last year. It's more of a weapon if you have a guy like Vick that can throw the ball."

Ryan was the defensive coordinator in Baltimore last year when the Ravens' twice shut down the Dolphins' Wildcat, once in the regular season and again in the playoffs. But the Dolphins, who used running back Ronnie Brown as the Wildcat, seldom threw out of the formation, except to occasionally flip it back to the quarterback.

"Defenses, when they see Ronnie Brown taking that direct snap, when see [Falcons running back] Jerious Norwood taking that direct snap, defenses take the safety out of the middle of the field and get into zero coverage, knowing that the guy isn't going to throw it," said Gruden. "When that guy back there can be a threat to throw it, it'll be real interesting to see what defensive coordinators do."

Ravens coach John Harbaugh said he's not going to lose any sleep over the Wildcat.

"I hope we see it every week," he said. "Because our defense is set up to defend it. If you've got a good front seven, you don't have to commit a safety to run or the option. That's the way it worked for us last year against Miami. We didn't have to [bring up a safety]."

"Our approach against the Wildcat was we had to be sound in what we did and make sure the edges were set, and we needed to beat blocks," said Pettine, who was the Ravens' linebackers coach last year. "The one thing the Wildcat allows you to do, it's like playing with an extra guy. It's the single-wing mentality. They now have an extra blocker. They can remove one more defender by splitting the quarterback out. Now you're getting two-back runs out of one-back spacing on the defense's part.

"That's why the issue for us always has been let's be sound, play great technique and beat blocks. That's how we feel is the best way to go against it. You don't need to scheme up anything crazy for it. We saw some teams try to do that last year and get burned on it because there's so many variations to it."



ESPN Video on The Wildcat package & The Single-Wing

.From 10/12/08

Wildcat help Dolphins beat Panthers

The wildcat rejuvenated the Dolphins last season, but they had kept it mostly under wraps in training camp before springing it on Carolina. The most elaborate play from the formation was a double handoff and pass, with Pennington coming off the flank to throw deep to a wide-open Cobbs.

Note: The Wildcat series starts at the 2:25 mark


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Vienna Eagles Football: Mike Rude Wingin' It Again

The Vienna Eagles Football team will play its first season in the Black Diamond Conference of Illinois. The Eagles first varsity football game will be against the Hamilton County Foxes on August 29th.

Are you ready for some football? It isn't the Vienna boys choir, it is football, baby! This team coming back has been the talk around Southern Illinois for a few years. The Eagles are flying into the Black Diamond for their first varsity football season since 1931. 1931! This was the year that the government got the conviction of Al Capone on tax fraud. The boys from Vienna have been playing a few years of underclass football, learning from not one but two Hall of Fame football coaches. Hall of Famer Mike Rude is the head coach while Hall of Famer Al Way has went back to help Harrisburg.

The field is a bit out of the way and it doesn't have lights so pile on out on Saturdays to watch Vienna battle in the historic Black Diamond Conference. Other schools from across the region have been pitching in to help Vienna. The scoreboard comes from Carmi High School, the press box from Marion High School, and the goal posts from Carbondale High School. How good will the Eagles be? Very hard to tell but with Coach Rude creating DVD's on how to run the unique Single-Wing offense, they might beat a few more teams than expected. We see a sixth or seventh place team at the end of the year, but five wins could get Vienna into the playoffs as the sixth Black Diamond team that qualifies for a playoff berth.

What is the Single Wing and why is it different?
The Single Wing is an unbalanced line where lineman are pulling and trapping and it doesn't feature the quarterback, but instead has a blocking back. Rude has traveled the nation helping teams install this offense and has a line of successful DVD's. From the DVD Sales page - "After only four years of running the Single Wing at Johnston City, Coach Rude's team has averaged over 4,000 rushing yards a season and has had six rushers with over 1,000 rushing yards. Using this rush-oriented offense will allow your team to control the clock, limit turnovers, and have fun with a new style of successful football." Mike Rude's Championship Production DVD.

Mike Rude (189-125, 40 coaching experience), one of the area's most storied coaches is the only area coach to win conference titles in three different leagues (Southwest Egyptian - Currently the SIRR-Miss. plus Murphysboro, Black Diamond, South Seven) while coaching Anna-Jonesboro, Johnston City, and Marion and among active coaches is only second to Du Quoin's Al Martin in wins (203-38).

The players do not have varsity experience but 42 are out for varsity with 37 returning with game experience. Ten players are returning starters on offense and ten are returning starters on defense. Two players to watch are seniors Colton Krelo (TB 5'10 190) on offense and Jose Ruiz (5'7 195) at Guard and Defensive End. Again, with the single wing offense lineman are pulling and trapping so look out for Martin Powell (G/LB 6'1 235) and Center Josh Wiltermood (6'4 210). Also in the backfield are junior Dillon Hall (5'8 160) and senior Reedus Maynor (FB/LB 6'1 240) and Dylan Kramp (WB/FB 6'1 150). Gaining varsity experience for next year will also be juniors Garrett Mattox (TE/DE 6'4 215), Branden Leeds (DB 5'10 150), and Trae Foster (DB 5'10 150).

Great Stories not yet Written that we would like to see
Because this is preseason of year one we can take a look at the season and pick out some great stories that may or may not happen. They might be far fetches, but it is fun to take a look.

•Vienna wins its first varsity football game since 1931.
•Vienna qualifies for the playoffs. Five Wins and they are in!
•Vienna goes undefeated at home. OK, this might sound crazy but the scheduling for the first year games was pretty fair. The Eagles have Hamilton County (first varsity game and also first home game), Carmi-White County which is coming off of a bit of a down year, Elverado-Trico, Eldorado, and the last home game of the year which puts Mike Rude against his old team of Johnston City.
•Mike Rude upsets his former team, the Johnston City Indians.

618 Football
Vienna, GA 31092


New Ford II football coach turns back the clock

Old school

New Ford II football coach turns back the clock
By Brad D. Bates
C & G Sports Writer

New Utica Ford II football coach Todd Winters is looking to take the Falcons back to football’s roots.

Winters is instilling a single-wing offense and hopes to refocus and renew the Falcons’ program with hard-nosed football.

“It’s old-school football,” Winters said. “It’s single-wing football — the beginning of football — stuff they ran on the 1934 Michigan team with Yale formations.”

The single-wing that Winters employs is a far cry from the modern spread offenses used by most of the teams in the Macomb Area Conference Red Division.

“We’re going to be the novelty,” Winters said of bringing his offense to the Red.
“They’re going to have one week to prepare for us, and we’re going to be the only one in the league doing it.”

The single-wing is primarily a run offense used most recently to perfection by Menominee High en route to back-to-back Division 5 state titles in 2006 and 2007.

The formation has multiple running backs and a quarterback who serves almost exclusively as another ball carrier.

“It’s a philosophy that allows substitutions, so we’re going to use a lot of different players,” Winters said. “(Junior) Aaron Cox will be one of the main backs. He’s the ‘quarterback,’ but there really aren’t too many pass plays.”

Terry Gissendanner, the smaller but faster senior, will join the 6-foot-3-inch, 240-pound Cox in the backfield.

The group that will see the most change is the Falcons’ offensive line.

Luckily for Winters, it’s a veteran group, with four returning seniors in right tackle Zach Orris, center Jon Balentino, left guard Kyle Unruh and left tackle Daryon DeVoogd.

“The last three years, coach (Jay) Anthes had them in a two-point stance,” Winters said of the offensive linemen under their former coach.

“This year, we’ll be in the three-point stance and in attack mode. There are fewer rules they need to follow. They just need to focus on the attack.”

There will also be a new defense for the Falcons, as they switch to a 3-3 stack where they’ll employ three defensive linemen, three linebackers and five defensive backs.

“The new defense is going to have press coverage and be a little more aggressive than a zone,” Winters said. “We’re going to change up our fronts, too.”

With so many changes, Winters admits his players were tentative early, but when they saw the opportunities the new schemes allowed, they were excited.

“When they heard about the offense, they were hesitant and wondered if it could work,” Winters said. “Once we got that mentality out of there, it didn’t take too long for them to warm up.”

While the Falcons adjust to new systems, they’ll have to replace a large senior class from the 2008 squad and make up for a reduced roster size in 2009.

“Our goal this year is to field 40 on varsity and 35 on JV,” Winters said. “Everything we do, you have to rely on your teammates.

“We won’t do a lot of one-on-one blocking, and we’re going to change the mentality and make it more aggressive.”

Winters, who has taught at Ford II for 14 years and coached football for 17, got used to doing more with less at his last head-coaching job a year ago at New Haven High.

“At New Haven, it was a good day when we had 22 kids, but we were always competitive,” Winters said of the Rockets, who were 3-6 overall and 2-3 in the MAC Bronze last year.
As Winters combines his know-how with Ford II’s resources, he hopes it will make for a successful equation.

“Now we’re on a level playing field, and hopefully, we’ll be able to compete.”

C&G Publishing
13650 E 11 Mile Rd
Warren, MI