Empowering Coaches Step-By-Step

The Facts About Running the Football In Youth Football

Many youth coaches think that somehow a run dominated attack at the youth level is somehow not “High School” level football. That is far from the truth, there are many High School teams from all across the country that rarely throw and are thriving.

Some Examples

Just off the top of my head Don Markham’s Bloomington High team in California set a record by scoring 880 points in a 14 game season, with over 90% of the touchdowns being runs and over 90% of the yardage being rushing yardage. Locally the most dominant large school program is Millard North has about 2,500 students and are located in suburban Omaha. They have won 3 State Titles in the last 6 years and have played for countless others. Millard North consistently averages 400+ rushing yards per game and last season had at least 3 games where they not only didn’t pass for a single yard, but they didn’t even bother to attempt a single pass. Millard North lost in the State Championship game last season in a very hotly contested game.

Some Amazing Numbers

A coaching friend attended a coaching clinic a few weeks back and reported back on John Shillito at Zeeland West High School in Michigan

Here are some interesting statistics about coach Shillito’s teams:

Three year record of 34-4 at ZWHS

In 13 years over 26,000 rushing yards, averaged over 9 yards a carry

Twenty-three 1,000 yard rushers in thirteen years.

 Just twice have thrown for 500 yards passing in a season

Nine different Fullbacks have rushed for 1,000 yards in a season

In 1999 3,500 yards on the trap play alone…7,000 yards overall in fourteen games

Some Coach Shillito’s Keys to Success:

Be ready to block every front in the world. Energy away from the ball, Passing is a Small package, all play-action, Look for athletic lineman, mobility is more important than size, Practice things that apply to the offense, No shoots or sled work, No tackling on Scout Team, Ball moves at a very fast tempo.

Does any of this sound vaguely familiar to those that have been to my clinics or read my book on Coaching Youth Football?

Pop Warner National Title Game

Just because the rage or fad of today seems to be all the spread passing attack, remember the two teams in the country that played in the Pop Warner National Championship game this year at Junior Pee Wee (age 9-11) completed just 25% of their passes. Yes, both of these 15-0 teams combined to complete just 25% of their attempts. The more important fact was that another 25% of those attempts were either intercepted OR resulted in a sack. So if the best 2 Pop Warner teams in the country out of thousands of teams are completing the ball at that rate, how well are the average skilled teams going to do? You do the math.

I have nothing against the pass, I love scoring with it, it is a valuable weapon in youth football and we are going to make sure we execute our pass packages well. But, if you think you can consistently move the chains throwing the ball in youth football with average kids, the facts don’t support your contention.

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