Head to Head: Offensive comments


Oakes: ‘Sup, man? I hope you’re not too busy shuffling through the rule book after last week’s conversation, because it’s time to make a legal shift into a new topic, and one that is near and dear to every spectator’s heart.

We love offense, don’t we? The same highlight-film mentality that made Major League Baseball do a “chicks dig the long ball” advertising campaign and turn a blind eye to performance-enhancing drugs has crept into football, too. And by that, I mean the style of game that is played at the professional and college levels. As a defensive player, you are not even allowed to breathe heavily within five yards of an eligible receiver without being called for a penalty (speaking of rules we hate).

This applies to high school, of course, since football is a copycat, trickle-down world. Coaches and players have devised a hundred new and exciting ways to move the ball down the field and put points on the board. Taking every snap out of the shotgun formation, often times with an empty backfield or one safety valve next to the quarterback, is all the rage these days.

What about tried and true, though? I think back to 2011, which wasn’t exactly the Dark Ages. Cheverus, Wells and Yarmouth were state champions. And what did they have in common? (Cue up the “Jeopardy” thinking music.) They all ran some variation of the Wing-T. That’s right, whippersnapper, power football, heavily centered around the strength of a tireless fullback and the activity of pulling guards bowling people to the ground. It’s big-boy, leather-helmet, pack-a-lunch football, the way the Good Lord and Red Grange meant for it to be played.

But you’re one of those crazy, idealistic kids who likes to use meaningless buzzwords like “change” and “progress” while sharing pictures of sushi on your Instagram, aren’t you? So I hesitate to ask, I prepare to cover my head in shame, but what, pray tell, is your favorite offense to watch in high school football?

Pelletier: Well, Mr. High-and-mighty, since you alluded to the “newfangled” spread offense, a debate into which you are baiting me, I will start there. But I am not going to give it my complete seal of approval.

Why? Because selecting which offense to run as a football team is akin to (now bear with me) finding the right set of golf clubs.

You have to play to your strengths. The average golfer isn’t going to take Rory McIlroy’s twigs and play better. In fact, he or she would play worse, because the clubs are not fit for them.

Likewise on the much-more-macho gridiron. Don’t take a team full of bruising linemen, cannon-ball running backs and 6-foot-and-forever tight ends and try to turn it into a Houston Oilers throwback. Run that power-I.

But if a team has the right tools — a confident, talented quarterback, speedy, sure-handed wideouts and backs, and a great pass-blocking line — the spread offense is easily the right offense to run, and it is my favorite to watch.

This topic reminds me of a recent conversation I saw about a local team. One particular fan (and his cronies joined in) lamented that their team was too run-oriented, claiming, ‘It’s a different game now, it’s a passing game. The coach needs to go, he doesn’t understand the way the game has evolved.”

To that end, I am very happy to see that you pointed out the recent success of power running teams.

Speaking of running, it may not be my favorite, but the double wing is certainly the most entertaining (and annoying when trying to keep stats). The misdirection it causes and the sophistication it takes to run it correctly make it near the top of my list.

That enough misdirection for you, Mr. Meat-and-potatoes? I have to go steam some rice and carve up some raw fish.

Oakes: Wow, talk about zigzagging all over the place without making a commitment. I don’t know whether to compare you to Barry Sanders or a candidate for public office.

I’ll reluctantly acknowledge that you make a good point, though. Some coaches try too hard to make the personnel fit the personal. You know, run what they like, the ingredients/tools in their arsenal be dadgummed. Others are smart enough to realize that saying you’re a spread team or a wishbone team doesn’t mean you can’t change your identity from year to year.

Mike Hathaway at Leavitt is a good example. Last year’s Hornets had the muscle up front and the mix of punishing and elusive backs that would have made throwing the ball all over creation a stupid decision, frankly. This year, the entire look of the roster has changed. He has a quarterback who can throw it on a dime and receivers who are our height (and unlike us, have actual leaping ability). They can go up and get it. So Leavitt is slinging the leather, and after a week or two to find its footing, is scoring points at its traditional, dizzying clip.

But we all know others who are less flexible, don’t we? Old, gray-haired, conservative types? We should love them … respect them … occasionally read the thoughts they put on paper. Oh, wait, we were talking about football coaching philosophies, weren’t we?

Pelletier: Stick to the topic, old man. Thankfully, for another week, at least, we’ll spare the readers any more bickering. We would like to hear opinions, though. As curmudgeonly as we can seem, we really do value other thoughts on our topics. Hit us up. We’ll read and listen (once Kalle finds his spectacles and ear trumpet …).