This past season I coached a team in the 10-12 year old youth football level and it was by far the most gratifying season of my career. My team had just 6 players that have played football in the past. It was a memorable season because we really overachieved and blew away all expectations.
Kids developed into football players.
Kids new to the sport of football create a great challenge to coaching staffs. The instruction is generally more in depth, more concentrated. As the season progressed I watched these kids really shape into the mold of a football player. We kept everything real vanilla- it took a few days for the kids to learn the offensive and defensive positions- they worked hard. The primary focus of our early practices was blocking on offense and tackling on defense. We worked on getting these kids into a proper 3 point stance. We then worked on getting into their splits consistently, blocking rules and firing out of their stance on different snap counts. The kids caught on pretty quickly-the biggest thing was how we used our snap count. Since the players were disciplined, we were able to mix up our snap counts in games pretty consistently without going off-sides. This slowed down the defensive rush. This helped neutralize the opposing team’s physical advantage.
Our offensive scheme worked quite well. Our Rocket/ Jet Wing T worked with our slower and smaller sized team. It has a lot of misdirection plays, and the rocket/jet sweep allowed us to attack the edge of the defense (even though we had limited speed).
Week 1 Upset. Our season kicked off against a team favored to win it all. I have coached many upsets in my career, but this one was in my top two list of favorites. The opposing team had great speed and size. We had film of their first preseason game that they played two weeks prior. They looked pretty good on film; the main concern for us was their speed and their mobile quarterback. They ran shotgun with 3-4 wide sets and they also had an I formation that was used when they wanted to go power football. We had a good idea of what they were going to try to do to us, so we practiced against it all week. It was difficult because we only had 18 kids so our scout team consisted of coaches holding pads.
Our main concern was stopping their zone read play. Their coaches would make the call from the side lines if they wanted the QB to pull the ball or to give it to the half back. This play call was based on our defensive alignment of course. Their read was the alignment of our defensive end. They would have the QB pull the ball and run it outside if we gave them a 7 technique and when we had our defensive end in a 9 technique they would give it to the running back inside (attacking C gap) . We actually had installed two new blitzes for this game. Since they looked at our defense to see where their best chance was, we hide our defensive responsibilities. We would line up with a lot of defenders in the box. Then when the ball was snapped our defensive end (contain player) would slant down to C-gap and the outside linebacker that was in C-gap slants to contain. Check out this blitz play on video:
Our offense moved the ball and controlled the clock; we really limited their offensive possessions. We drew their defense off-sides at least 7 times. Final score was 14-6, it was a major upset. We got off to a good start to the game which helped build our confidence and led us on our way to victory. At pregame weigh ins the opposing team looked like mini men, they appeared really good. But, as you coaches understand- if you prepare well you can achieve victory against many opponents.
7 Different Players Scored Touchdowns.This was by far my favorite moment of this past season. We were able to get up big in a few games, which allowed us to play some of our Minimum Play Players more. We ended up having 4 non-starters score touchdowns this season. Having a MPP score a touchdown will make his day and it will be something they will always remember. It will also help them build confidence and keep them interested in the sport.
Youth Football is all about the development of characteristics such as hard work, teamwork, communication, physical conditioning, competitiveness and commitment. These are traits that a good youth football coaching staff will develop in all their players.
With all of my players coming back next season, I am expecting big things.