Thursday, November 27, 2008

The A-11 offense: great football innovation

By Rick Morris

On a day when so many of us gorge ourselves on turkey and watch football all day long, what better time to celebrate some great gridiron innovation? As somebody who really loves the "Xs and Os" of football, the chess game aspect of matching up and trying to outwit the other side, I was really intrigued by a recent feature on Deadspin about the A-11 offense, a concept introduced by a high school football coach in Piedmont, CA.

As is the case with many programs, he knew that his team was not going to be able to measure up to most opponents in terms of skill and stature and, possessed of a great competitive spirit, he wanted to do whatever he could to help his team transcend those limitations. The answer? A schematic system that exploited a loophole in the rules about what was permissible in a punt formation:

"Any five players on any given play are eligible to go downfield and catch a pass, and the defense never knows which five. With two quarterbacks in the backfield, no one under center and three receivers split wide on each side, it's basically a kick formation, where the standard receiver eligibility rules don't apply. There can be direct snaps to any of three players in the backfield, lots of end-arounds and reverses."

Wow -- and to think that some people have said that the Miami Dolphins bringing back the Wildcat offense was radical!

Piedmont now has a website devoted to spreading the word and sharing ideas about the A-11 because it has become a trendsetter for other high school programs nationwide.

Here's some highlights from the 2008 season:

And here's some more '08 highlights:

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