When coaching youth football what do you do the week you are playing a bottom dweller? There can be long term repercussions when you play a weak team and use all the coaching clichés like playing one game at a time, any given Sunday, or build up that weak team as someone that can actually beat you. You lose credibility with your team, credibility you are going to need later on in the season when you DO play that mediocre team, that you DON’T match up well against. Cry wolf and the kids will get it and not respond well when there IS a legit threat. This is the pilot season that was shot for the reality television show “Worst to First” I took an eighth grade team that had won about six games in the last six years to the Semi-Finals in the largest and most competitive league in the Reno/North Nevada area.
When coaching youth football you will eventually play a team you match up really well against and will most likely blow out unless you have a catastrophic once in a millennium blow up. What do you practice on that week? Should you invest a lot of time defending their offensive scheme and game planning or take that valuable time and invest it where you will get a long term return? What’s more important, beating that bottom dweller by 62-6 rather than 42-14 or strengthening areas of your game or maybe bringing your team closer together?
The youth football team we were facing this week would end the season with just 1-2 wins. Yes, if this was 2013 instead of 2014, scheme would have been important. In 2013 this game would have been a dogfight, but in 2014 our kids were much more fundamentally sound, confident and playing together. Had this weeks opponent run something we hadn’t seen yet like a true triple option or Markham Double Wing team, investing a little time on scheme would have probably made sense. But our opponent ran a lot of Power I, then they ran some Double Slot One Back stuff using a Rocket Orbit Sweep series of plays. This wasn’t anything we hadn’t seen before and they were very average in space. If we protected the football we should be able to name the score.
The goal was to get fundamentally better during the week, work some on improving the passing game, improve the reads and consistency of our Defensive Tackles, consistently gang tackle and build depth. We wanted to have plenty of momentum going into our last regular season game against a team with the same record as us, which would determine if we made the playoffs or not.
The remaining two practices were tough, we amped up our pace. During full team offensive and defensive recognition drills, we were running 11 kids in and 11 kids out on every rep and were getting about 1 rep in every 15 seconds. Defensive recognition covers all the formations and alignments we would see during the season and many of the base play concepts. We actually tilted some of the recognition towards our last regular season opponent which with the bye we wouldn’t see for three weeks. While we were still trying to build depth, this team was so weak we had every descent athlete playing both ways. We had a lot more flexibility on the line.
How would it end up? Next post will tell all.