Game One Youth Football
So the hay Is in the barn, it’s time to show the parents if your team has been prepared well, how did we do in game one youth football season 2016 ? Again, this is for your benefit, to help you see how others do things, facing the very same issues you face.
Game one can be kind of a crapshoot for many youth football coaches. With just 3-5 weeks to get ready for game one, how are they going to look? Most of the time you have no clue what the other team is going to do, because there isn’t any track record yet. My team had 16 kids new to football on it. NONE of the backfield starters or our Center had never taken a snap in a tackle game.
Our normal pregame routine is just 40 minutes, but we needed more time than that so we went 50 minutes. BUT, helmets were off for all but the last 10 minutes and when players weren’t in, they were in the shade. We went through all the warmups and prep detailed in the Game Day Management DVD. Per that approach the last 10 minutes was full contact to the ground 3 Level Oklahoma drills, to get the juices flowing. Game Day Management DVD
Normally I watch the other team warm up instead of my own, but with all the new players and coaches, I worked the pregame focused on my team. It was a very hot and humid day at home in our field turf stadium. The usual goals were talked about once more before we took the field: No turnovers, get 2 turnovers from them, score on every possession, limit them to one score, effort to the whistle and gang tackle. To quiet any nerves I talked about the fact that all of us were going to make mistakes today and that was ok, as long as we shook it off and gave great effort. Don’t get uptight if a coach asks you to realign a bit or coach you up a bit. I smiled really big and told them to just go out and have fun, the game will take care of itself and that I was proud of how far they had improved in just four weeks.
We had practiced the coin flip with our 3 captains and they knew exactly what to say. We want the ball, no matter win or lose the flip, no matter what the other team says, the ONLY words you can say to the ref is “we want the ball”. Once the ref says you can’t have the ball, THEN they look to me to determine which goal to defend. The opposing team won the toss, deferred to the second half and we returned the ball to the 40 to start the game.
On offense we went 7 plays in about 2 ½ minutes to score the opening touchdown. While we are a no-huddle team, we weren’t going rapid pace and since it was game one, the referees were slowing things down a bit to let these fourth grade defensive players the chance to get lined up properly. We kept is simple, a mix of off-tackle runs, wedge runs and one sweep.
Defensively the other team went 3 and out after starting with a promising 4 yard gain on the first play. We scored in 4 plays, this time on a counter play that wasn’t defended very well. Neither of our onside kicks were even close. Defensively we held them to 3 and out as they started to panic a little. A second down incomplete play action pass set up a third and long and we got an 8 yard loss thanks to a well defended bootleg play.
We opened up the playbook here as it looked as if we were going to be able to handle this team. As we neared the end of the first quarter we had already scored twice and the other team hadn’t got a first down yet. We had just two “striped” players, while the opposing team was also small, with just one. They had good but not great speed in their backfield. They were aligning well, correct on our unbalanced and getting lined up well on offense and getting their snaps and ball exchanges off well. They just weren’t coming off the ball fast and their pad level was too high.
We threw an interception on first down on a ball that shouldn’t have been thrown. No biggie, the QB got a smile from me and a “let’s not throw that one next time, you’re OK” spiel from me. We shut them down and ended up dominating 38-6, with a late score coming against all of our backups- which is fine by me.
The kids were excited and proud. I let them know I liked the effort, talked about how we did against our goals. No fumbles, but one turnover. We only got one turnover back, we efforted pretty well, had just one penalty and no serious injuries. Some things I saw that I didn’t like: we blocked the wedge well, but our backs didn’t run it well. They were either staying in the wedge too long or busting it outside the apex without giving it a chance. Our kick out blocks were often at poor angles and it was a big bang, then nothing, no stick to the defender with movement. Our kicking game was poor. Defensively we slow played the backside well. Our Defensive Tackles were aligning well and doing their jobs. Our Defensive Ends weren’t challenged and our Linebackers were ok. We had no issues getting all of our minimum play players their snaps, but it was a blowout, so we hadn’t really been challenged. Our coaches had done a very good job of following our game plan to fill that requirement.
It was an OK first game against a pretty weak opponent, but there were so many things we needed to work on. We would be looking for improvement in practice this week. See what we did on the next post.