It was always probably inevitable that I would enjoy football as much as I do, but there was a moment where I was most definitely on the fence. Rocket football is not a fun memory for me. I wasn’t big and I wasn’t good. I remember attempting to be an offensive and defensive lineman for a few years. I remember surviving practices and games by cutting people (cutting an opposing player’s legs out from under them at the snap of the ball) if I couldn’t do that it was ugly. So at one point I took a break from playing football. I continued to watch just not participate. My mother swears that I attended almost every game in my home town, so long the weather allowed, since I was three years old. She bought snowsuits for me not to play in but to tough out even the most extreme of cold on Friday nights. She’s certain that I didn’t miss a game from third grade on. I’m not sure if that streak is impressive or sad, but I continued said streak through the year after I graduated. I can only hope there’s a better streak out there and if there is I’d love to talk to that person (from a fan’s perspective that is). It wasn’t until my second year of college that I decided to take another break. I was still trying to decide what to do with my life and I wanted to try to find something better on a Friday night. The break didn’t last long I missed the atmosphere to much. So as it turned out what I wanted to do was to teach like all the people I respect and love so much. I started coaching in some capacity as a volunteer in 2007 or so, before even obtaining my degree. I’ve enjoyed football and I guess this is a much too long way of saying I’m taking another break. It’s just for this week but I’m going to go celebrate an old friend’s engagement instead.
Before you leave thinking ugh I just wanted to read about football not some sappy story, have no fear. If I were to go to a game this week I’d definitely make the long trip up north to watch the defending division four state champion Zeeland West at Muskegon Mona Shores. I know my local crowd is thinking Watervliet plays Schoolcraft this week. Why would I drive so far when there’s a great game close by? I hear you and I went to that barn burner last year (best video I could find even though the game is toward the end of the clip and the commentator makes a bevy of errors in discussing it). Watervliet going for two and the win wasn’t much of a discussion amongst my family members who attended with me. Go for the win when you can is just what you do as the road team, no question. This year’s game should be a good one although it’ll be tough to top last years.
I’m sticking with the state’s biggest matchup as the game I’d most like to watch. Zeeland runs the wing t which has been covered multiple times on this site. The fun thing about Zeeland is they will use false pulls. Meaning they will pull the guard to trap and the other guard in the opposite direction as a way to mess with the linebackers keys. Zeeland will also run through the trap, cross, keep, sequence at a lightening pace (if you are lost I wrote about the wing t previously on this site, just search it and it will hopefully help). Honestly they have been one of the fastest teams I’ve ever seen play the few times I’ve been able to see them in person.
While Zeeland’s speed is fun to watch, I fell in love with the offense Muskegon Mona Shores uses. Back in the day the teams I played on used a system known as the veer. The veer is an option play where the first man outside of the hole (the spot designated for the running back to run through) is left unblocked. The quarterback reads that man and determines whether to give the ball to the back or pull it in the event the unblocked defender closes on the potential ball carrier. The quarterback continues down the line to read the also unblocked end man on the line of scrimmage. This defender must make the decision to either tackle the quarterback or stay with another offensive player serving as a pitch back (a player the quarterback has the option to lateral the ball to). It’s a great offense that utilizes angles for undersized linemen and emphasizes speed over power. It’s fun to watch veer teams use formations in an attempt to outflank their opponent or create an extra unaccounted for gap in the defense. It’s honestly the most entertaining thing ever for me and I’m not embarrassed to say it. I love outsmarting an opponent whether it’s an audible on the field as a skinny quarterback or using an unbalanced formation knowing what gap will be left as a more portly coach.
The split back veer was my offense as a player a long time ago (also used by Portage Central last week to which I loved every minute of watching) and the principles of reading defenders instead of blocking them have really revolutionized the game. Several teams still run the old Bill Yeoman veer like the old Houston Cougars (if you follow the link you should know I grew up a big Joe Montana fan), but as all things it evolved. Now not to get into too much of a history lesson the split back veer eventually was ran out of the wishbone (three runningback forming the letter y behind the quarterback), which was eventually winged known to some as the broken bone. It went further and was double winged often called the flex bone just like the aforementioned Schoolcraft Eagles run. It evolved even further in the city of Muskegon where wings eventually lined up further from the ball and a spread look called the pistol was used. Tony Annese the current head coach of the Ferris State Bulldogs ran what he named the showgun offense with great success at Muskegon high school. Eventually he was called up to the college ranks and his old staff produced two notable head coaches Shane Fairfield who stayed at Muskegon (they also refer to their offense as the ski gun even though it’s the same thing they have done for years essentially) and Matt Koziak who went just a few miles down the road to Muskegon Mona Shores. Finally the connection! How do I know all of this well I attended a few talks on the showgun offense one of which by Tony Annese and two by Matt Koziak. They are wonderful presenters who answered a ton of questions and had several video related things I happily purchased.
So this offense structure wise might not look like my old offensive formations but the offensive linemen splits are very wide and familiar. It can play like a spread offense with all the infuriating screen passes that go along with it. It also uses several wing motions similar to the flexbone (if you didn’t watch the flexbone link above think of Georgia Tech or one of the academies). The blocking scheme up front is just like the veer schemes of old and I love to watch it. Being a person who used to have to make decisions with the ball it’s fun to read keys along with the qb as the play develops. I’ll often times say aloud “give” or “keep” right as the play is under way.
The creator of this wonderful offense refers to it as a hybrid. It is not full option or spread or even pistol. You would be wrong if you simply called it the pistol offense likened to the days of Colin Kaepernick at the University of Nevada (better breakdown of that offense here) and even into his time in the NFL.
So you might say I’ve come full circle with my football thinking. As a rocket player I didn’t like blocking people and now as an adult I still selectively don’t like blocking people. So whether you go to Zeeland West taking on Muskegon Mona Shores or Schoolcraft against Watervliet watch how many people go unblocked. I think in either game the number will surprise you. Wow, this was a really long post that started with I’m taking the week off. Enjoy your football I’m taking a break.