Youth Football Game 2 The Journey 2016
For you youth football coaches following along on my 2016 season, we have some hard lessons that can be learned from my season- Youth Football Game 2. See the below posts to understand where we started and how we got to this point.
Our opponent was a multiple direct snap team with two very strong, athletic, fast and elusive backs. They had one dominant defensive linemen, several large serviceable lineman and from what we could tell just ONE minimum play player. This team had one team in our single age bracket and another team in the double age bracket. At the end of the season the team we played ended up in third place, their combined age group team went winless. So as you might have expected, all the minimum play kids were relegated to their double age group team.
It was a very hot and humid day. On the way to the game I got THAT CALL, you know the one where one of your two way starters was sick. Yep, my starting Pulling Guard/Defensive Tackle was out with severe flu with vomiting. This player was one of our toughest kids, who never missed a snap or practice last season. The problem was his replacement really didn’t know the position. The replacement had been slotted at Blocking Back after playing Power Tackle the previous year. Long story short, we didn’t make the decision to move the backup to Right Guard until after week 3 and with the issues we were having with running our Wedge, we had moved the “backup” back to Blocking Back. So we moved our starting Left Guard to Right Guard for this game only and just didn’t pull. If you know our offense, that really hurts.
In pre-game we gave our new starter a big smile and pep talk and taught him how to be the apex of the wedge in 10 short minutes. We were practicing in the shade and the referees asked us if we wanted to start early, we declined because we needed every second of that practice time to get our new starting Right Guard up to speed. The referees didn’t like that at all. Our youth football playbook would be small for this game, we would limit ourselves to about 6 football plays, that’s it.
We start on offense, putting together a 9 play drive and score. Nothing fancy, 4 complementary football plays and no passes. Our PAT kicks had been very inconsistent, so we ran it in for the 1 point making it 7-0. On defense they go 3 and out, losing yardage on 2 of the 3 plays. One thing that was very noticeable was how slow the pace of the game was. It was taking a minute off the clock on every offensive snap of our opponent. While it was just game 2, the referees were letting the game go slowly, not enforcing the 25 second clock and letting the clock run. We were the last game of the day. I mentioned it once, they said they weren’t going to enforce it, so I did what you have to do- shut up.
On possession 2, we score again on an 8 play drive just as the first quarter ends. We missed our PAT run by inches, so we are up 13-0 and in good shape. On defense they go 3 and out again with 2 of the 3 plays going for negative yardage. We shut down their favorite play and one of the all-time youth football plays of all time- the inside counter.
On possession 3 we again move right down the field. But we get behind the chains on a block in the back penalty and a bobbled snap deep in their territory. On defense- our 6-2 youth football defense has them flustered, they attempt 2 passes and we get them again for a loss, they go 3 and out.
On possession 4 we move down the field using several Wham plays as we have their Defensive Tackle in a quandary. He is getting double teamed to death on power, but when he tries to come up field hard or stunt to the outside- we let him come through clean and wham him. Their very best player is visibly frustrated. We get another block in the back penalty on a long run, a poorly run wedge play and a very poor effort by our Blocking Back on a sweep lets their best player drop our runner for a loss to end the drive at their 20.
On the next snap they go 80 yards on a cutback play that was originally destined to go off-tackle. Our backside Linebacker who is slow was overcompensating for his lack of speed, over-ran the play and our Monster trips over another player as their speed demon makes our kids look like they are in slow motion. They miss their PAT kick, we are up 13-6. We get the ball to their 30 but run out of time as the referees won’t allow us to go hurry up- slowing the game down by standing over the ball and letting everyone get set up perfectly before allowing the snap.
I won’t bore you with all the rest of the grimy details other than on offense- we made multiple first downs on every possession we ran 61 offensive snaps. We had no turnovers, but had 5 major penalties- all blocks in the back- where the opposition turned their backs on our kids while in contact. I’m not whining about the calls, I just wanted you all to know we teach our kids not to block in the back. We also had 2-3 bobbled snaps. These were very good snaps that were just mishandled a bit. We had no turnovers and 1 off-sides penalty. We consistently moved the ball, then would get behind the chains and not be able to convert. The whole game was played on their side of the 50.
Our Youth Football Defense
On defense we played well. They had 20 offensive snaps, 12 ended up as negative yardage plays. However they did have 2 plays that went for 155 yards, an 80 yard TD run and a 75 yard TD run where their stud Running Back broke 3 attempted tackles with an amazing stiff arm and blazing speed. They made their PAT kick by a millimeter.
They recovered one onside kick that was executed perfectly and the game went just 81 snaps. In non-mercy rule games in this league with our no-huddle offense we average over 100 snaps. At the end of the day in many ways without our Pulling Guard we played much better than in game 1.
Wrap Up With the Kids
At the end of the game I told the kids about all the positives I saw: great effort, good body language, great teamwork, great attitude, confidence, excellent pass defense, good defensive end play, excellent nose tackle play and good snaps. We would need to work on: better kick-out blocks and second level blocks by our Blocking Back, more consistent snap control by our backs, an improved passing game, better pursuit angles , run fits and open field tackling and improved PAT kicks. I told the kids the loss was my fault and then had them all point to whose fault it was- they all pointed at me. I had failed to adequately prepare a backup Pulling Guard due to some indecision and a misplaced feeling that this very dependable kid who was sold out on playing for us and his ultra-reliable parents- that this kid would never miss a game. It doesn’t matter he is a tough, amazing wrestler who never missed a practice or snap in 2 years, kids ARE GOING TO MISS. Not being able to run G or Trap plays or even getting another body out there on counters, powers and sweeps hurt us.
This was a youth football game we deserved to win- 61 offensive plays with no offensive turnovers to 20 offensive snaps and one special teams takeaway on their part. But as I explained to the kids, the teams that deserve to win don’t always win. The only way to do that was to dominate every snap so that nothing fluky could stop them from winning. I ended up by saying I was proud of them and would be looking forward to playing this team again in the playoffs.
Hopefully this helps you guys who are coaching youth football this coming season. We have complete season DVDs along with commentary right here: Season DVDs