With football right around the corner, why not start the season off with a bang? Why not inject some fun for your players and excitement for your fans? First games of the season offer teams the opportunity to surprise opponents with plays or schemes that have not been seen previously on any past game tapes. Just envision what the effects of returning the season’s opening kickoff for a touchdown would do for your team and your fans not to mention the reverse for your opponent. That one momentous play can spell the difference between victory and defeat. We have experienced this scenario numerous times. When first introducing the reverse to the other members of our coaching staff, it wasn’t exactly met with overwhelming enthusiasm. However, with persistence the staff finally gave their reluctant approval. Only literally given fifteen minutes of practice time to teach and implement the new kickoff return the day prior to the opener, miraculously somehow it got done.
On game day, prior to the captains’ meeting with the referees, our captain was instructed not to defer if we won the coin toss. We wanted the ball first. We lost the flip, but it was immaterial as our opponent deferred. Some of the older coaches were seen rolling their eyes when they heard that we were going to run the reverse. The whistle blew and the ball was kicked deep. 17 seconds and 80 yards later our wing back crossed the goal line untouched. Everyone on our side was going crazy. The opposition side was silent and in a state of shock. One of the older coaches came over and said to me, “Anything you say from now on kid, we’re doing”.
The middle return or a variation is the predominate choice of most programs. Albeit a fine return but offers little deception. From our perspective the middle return plays right into the hands of the defense whose strength lies in the center. We prefer to attack the flanks that we deem weaker. Despite that potential advantage, most teams use little imagination or variety in their return game. Their preference is power on power. We have heard from some coaches that spending too much time on the return game was considered negative coaching. However, we are of a different school of thought.
We believe it wiser to attack the weakest point of the defense, the flanks. Disciplined teams are those that stay in their lanes and protect respective areas. All teams designate one player on each end as the contain man. As such, their job is not to allow the ball carrier to get outside. Our return has a wedge appearance and can in actuality be a middle return. However, our design is to run a reverse either left or right where we can deceive and outman the end responsible for containment. We count heavily on the human aspect of the game. Regardless how disciplined a team is, once the contain men believe the return is up the middle their tendency inevitably is to flow toward the middle. This plays right into our hands.
We align our personnel thusly, the front five are aligned on the 40-yard line. That personnel group is comprised of five of our largest, most physical, and fastest lineman or linebackers. The three players aligned on the 25-yard line are comprised of a blocking end, quarterback, and a wingback. The quarterback should be the best ball handler and the wingback the fastest back on the squad. The back aligned on the 20-yard line should be a fullback or blocking back. The two deep returners are aligned at the 10. Of course, the alignment of the backs can vary dependent upon the opponents’ kicking abilities. Our first option is always to run the reverse. However, if the kick is squibbed or mishandled, the middle return is automatic. The reverse can be run toward either sideline. Our preference is always toward our sideline.
Execute the Wing Reverse Left or Right as Follows:
There Is a Method to Our Madness:
For lower-level high school teams that are rarely scouted, the reverse is the closest thing to a sure touchdown that we have ever seen. On any level it can be an absolute game breaker and momentum changer. We have had firsthand experience of the reverse scoring touchdowns where nobody on the opposition even knew who had the ball. We even won a championship by allowing an opponent to score a touchdown and lead by four points with 10 seconds remaining on the game clock, only to run the reverse for the game winning championship touchdown on the ensuing kickoff. The reverse has injected fun and excitement and has given our players a decided edge and boost of confidence in our ability to be successful. It just might be the missing ingredient that spices up your program and propels it to the next level.